Bridge: Rubber has dull shine

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The Independent Culture
AS IN tennis, where good singles players are not always good doubles players and vice versa, so the best duplicate pairs players do not always shine at rubber bridge. This deal was a case in point, where East's thinking was not along the right lines for the rubber game.

Game all; dealer South


Q 5

A 7 6 5 2

K Q 7

Q 4


K 9 7 4


J 10 9 5

A 9 7 6


J 10 6 2

K 4

8 6 4

K 8 5 2


A 8 3

Q 10 9 8 3

A 3

J 10 3

The bidding was simple: South opened lightly with One Heart and was raised directly to game. West led the jack of diamonds against Four Hearts and, after winning in hand, declarer led a heart to the ace.

The trumps proved to be 2-1, but the king did not fall. It was clearly necessary for declarer to establish a club trick, in order to discard a spade from dummy, and at trick 3, he led the four of clubs from the table. East played low and the ten lost to the ace. Now it was all over - West could not profitably attack spades from his side of the table, and by the time East gained the lead with his king of clubs, it was too late.

Looking at all four hands, the winning defence is easy: East must go in with his king of clubs on the first round of the suit and lead a spade. East had his alibi ready. 'I thought of that, but I look foolish if South's clubs are A J X' This might have been a defensible argument in a pairs contest, possibly conceding a completely unnecessary overtrick, but when playing rubber bridge an overtrick scarcely matters.

Playing the king represented the only real chance of beating the contract. There was no hope of finding West with two spade tricks, for with both the ace and the king, he would surely have led one. A far better bet was to place him with the king of spades and the ace of clubs.