Independent Pursuits: Bridge

"IT WORKS, doesn't it?" was South's comment after landing his slam on this deal. He was referring to the Principle of Restricted Choice but, as was revealed by a closer analysis, he should have had no need to fall back on this.

South opened One Heart and, with an awkward call, North temporised with Two Clubs. Matters did not improve when his partner jumped to Three Hearts (perhaps Two Spades was a good alternative?) and North manufactured his next bid of Three Spades. There was a further unwelcome development when South raised to Four Spades, but North converted to Five Hearts and South bid the slam.

West led #Q against Six Hearts and, after winning with his ace, East switched to a trump. In practice declarer simply drew trumps and turned his attention to the spades. The ace and queen saw West follow with the four and jack and now, on the third round of the suit, declarer finessed 49 successfully. The point, of course, was that if West had started with 4J104, he could equally well have played the jack or the ten on the second round but, with 4J4 alone, he would have had no choice.

Well, what would have been a better line of play? Try winning the trump in dummy and ruffing a diamond. Cross to the other high trump and ruff another diamond. Now draw the last trump, cash 2AK and, after entering dummy with 4A, ruff a club. Do you see the point now? By this time West has been proved to have started with three hearts, six diamonds, and two clubs; he must therefore hold only two spades. After this, the finesse of 49 on the third round of the suit is a certainty - not just a 2 to 1 on shot.

Game all; dealer South


4A Q 2

!A Q

#7 6 4 3

26 4 3 2

West East

4J 4 410 8 7 3

!7 4 3 !6 5

#Q J 10 9 5 2 #A 8

2J 8 2Q 10 9 7 5


4K 9 6 5

!K J 10 9 8 2


2A K