Bridge: Applying fuzzy logic

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THERE was a curious result on this deal from a pairs competition. It seemed impossible for South to make an overtrick in Six Spades, but there was a logical reason for East's play.

Game all; dealer South


S A 6 5

H A K 4 3

D 9 7 6

C Q 9 7


7 4 3 2

8 6 2

Q J 10

10 8 6



Q J 9

8 5 4 3 2

5 4 3 2


K Q J 10 9

10 7 5



Playing a complicated relay system South opened One Club, and eight rounds of artificial bidding revealed that North held two aces, one king and one queen in a 3-4-3- 3 distribution, while nothing was known of South's hand except that he wanted to play in Six Spades.

West led the queen of diamonds and, although dummy appeared as advertised, South realised that he was heading for a poor result as surely the rest of the field would end in the higher-scoring Six No-trumps.

Could anything be done to engineer an overtrick? South tried an ingenious plan. He won the diamond lead and followed with the queen and then jack of spades. When declarer abandoned trumps, it looked to East as if his partner still held the guarded king. So when declarer next played off the ace and king of hearts, East unblocked with his jack and queen. This gave South a 13th trick with his 10 of hearts.

What persuaded East to play like this? He was convinced that the play was consistent with South having started with S QJ1097, H 875, D AK, C AKJ. Then after cashing his minor suit winners and ruffing a diamond in hand, declarer would exit with a heart. If East had to win this, his partner's supposed king of trumps would be caught in a classic smother play. However, if West was able to win the third heart, he would then have a safe exit of a low trump.