The Weekly Vista

Contract Bridge

Accidental­ly On Purpose

- By Steve Becker

One way to describe a poor bridge player is to say that he plays so badly, he even trumps his partner’s aces. Sometimes, though, trumping partner’s ace is absolutely necessary to achieve the best result.

Consider this deal where South got to three spades on the sequence shown. North’s three spade bid was clearly wrong, as he was in effect punishing his partner for competing against a partscore. South had previously limited his values by overcallin­g with one spade, so he could hardly have a hand that would make a game opposite North’s mediocre values.

West led his singleton club, and East started the defense on the right path when he took the king and returned a trump. Declarer won with dummy’s ten and led the queen of clubs. East played the ace, and it was at this point that West trumped his partner’s ace and led a second round of trump!

As a result, South went down one. He could ruff his third club in dummy, but he could not avoid losing his remaining club to East. All told, he lost three clubs, a heart and a diamond.

Had West failed to trump his partner’s ace at trick three, South would have made the contract, trumping two clubs in dummy instead of one to finish with nine tricks.

The hand illustrate­s the importance of keeping an open mind on defense. All too often a declarer is allowed to conduct his business without interferen­ce and so achieve what appears to be a normal result. East’s trump shift at trick two was not difficult, but West’s ruff of his partner’s ace showed a high degree of awareness at the critical point in the play.

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