Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
IT PROVED to be an expensive misjudgement when West made an unfortunate choice of discard while defending against South's slam on this deal. From his point of view it was complete guess but - in a distinctly odd way - his partner could have given him a nudge in the right direction.

South opened 1 no-trumps (15-17 points) and North raised quantitatively to 4 no-trumps. With a maximum South accepted the invitation and West led a passive nine of spades against Six no-trumps. Clearly South had a number of possibilities open to him - an even club break, a heart finesse, a possible end play, or even some sort of squeeze. Rather than try to evaluate so many factors, declarer cashed three top spades, ending in hand, and simply finessed !J. This lost to the queen but now East was in a little difficulty. To return either minor suit might prove costly, so he exited (he thought safely) with the ten of hearts. Declarer won on the table, played off the king and ace of diamonds, and followed by cashing the 13th spade.

Now it was West who had the problem. Had South started with four hearts or four clubs? He guessed wrongly, parted with a club, and it was all over.

As I suggested, East could have saved the day. Suppose that, instead of the natural ten of hearts, he had played back the seven? You can see how this would have helped West - whether it was his partner or declarer who held the missing ten of hearts, his remaining low hearts could be of no conceivable value and so he would have had a safe discard, keeping the vital guard in clubs.

Game all; dealer South


4K 10 5

!A J 4

#K 10 8 3

2A Q 9

West East

49 8 7 46 3 2

!9 8 5 3 !Q 10 7

#Q 6 #J 9 7 5 2

2J 10 6 2 28 3


4A Q J 4

!K 6 2

#A 4

2K 7 5 4