Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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IT WAS only an insignificant rubber bridge part score but, to listen to the East-West argument that ensued, you would have thought that they had been defending against a grand slam.

Nobody at the table spotted the bet solution to their problems.

South opened 1 No-trumps (15-17 points) and all passed. West led !10 to the jack and king, and declarer held off until the third round, throwing a spade from dummy. Then he led a low spade and West, after winning with 4Q, cashed !Q on which both dummy and declarer threw clubs.

At this point the defenders could have cashed four clubs but, from West's point of view, South could still hold 2Kx, so he tried #7. This went to the 10, jack and ace, and declarer played off the ace and another spade. West won, and East parted with #2. Now the contract could have gone three off but West's construction of the deal led him to believe that South had started with, say, 4Axxx !Axx #A 9 8 2Kxx. At any rate, he led a second diamond and South now had two spades, a heart and four diamonds.

How could East have helped? By throwing #9, not #2, on the third spade. For, if he still held #K9, he would have wanted a diamond, not a club. So the discard of #9 would surely deny possession of #K, and now West could hardly have gone wrong.