ETCETERA / Bridge

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The Independent Culture
CHESS PLAYERS make blunders; so do bridge players - even world champions have been known physically to take the wrong card from their hand and play it (after which there is no redress). Declarer's mistake on this deal was just as bad; at least, it could have been avoided if he had troubled to add up to 13.

Game all; dealer South

North

S. 8 6 5 2

H. Q 4 2

D. J 4

C. Q 10 9 7

South

S. A 7 4

H. A K 10 7

D. A K Q

C. A K J

West

S. K Q J 9 3

H. 8 5

D. 10 9 7

C. 8 6 4

East

S. 10

H. J 9 6 3

D. 8 6 5 3 2

C. 5 3 2

South opened Two Clubs and, over North's negative reply of Two Diamonds, rebid Two Hearts. This was a new conventional gimmick, showing either a heart suit or, if followed by Two No-trumps over partner's forced reply of Two Spades, a balanced hand with game-going values.

It all led to a reasonable enough contract of Six No-trumps by South. West led the king of spades and declarer held off, both to correct the timing for a possible squeeze and to see what happened. He won the spade continuation (on which East discarded a diamond) and played off three diamonds and four rounds of clubs (discarding a spade from hand) before turning his attention to the hearts.

Everyone followed to the ace and the queen of hearts and East to the third round. Time stood still before declarer went up with the king, winced and conceded one down.

What was the blunder? Why, West was marked with a five-card spade suit (after his partner's discard on the second round) and had already produced three cards in each of the minor suits. Unless he had started with 14 cards, he could not hold more than two hearts and the finesse of declarer's ten would have won for certain. South's instinctive play of ducking the opening lead had given him a perfect count on the East-West hands.

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