Bridge: Playing the wrong note

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The Independent Culture
'WOULDN'T you have played it in the same way?' asked South after going down in his slam contract on this week's deal.

There was something about his partner's expression that suggested he might not have done, and was not sure why South had so played it.

Game all: dealer North


A 9 7 3

A 4

A 8

A K 7 6 3


J 5 2

9 8 6 2

K Q J 6

Q 10



10 7 5

9 7 5 4 3 2

J 9 8


K 10 8 6 4

K Q J 3


5 4 2

Perhaps both partners did a little too much bidding but we have all played in worse slams than the Six Spades they reached.

West led the king of diamonds to dummy's ace and declarer took stock. A club loser seemed inevitable and everything would depend on how he tackled trumps.

A low spade from the table went to the queen and king and when West followed low to the next trump lead, South had a critical decision to make.

The Principle of Restricted Choice suggests that if East had started with queen-jack doubleton he would have been equally likely to have followed with either card.

With the singleton queen however, he would have had no choice. The fact that he had played the queen should have persuaded declarer to finesse.

Instead, after deep thought, dummy's ace was called for. When East showed out, declarer sighed and conceded one down, losing a trick in each black suit.

Playing the trumps as he did was inferior, true, but conceding one off was positively criminal. After winning with the ace of spades declarer should ruff dummy's diamond, cash the ace and king of clubs, and follow with four rounds of hearts, throwing clubs from the table.

Then he exits with a trump. West wins but now has to concede a ruff and discard and South's losing club goes away.