Pursuits: Bridge

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WEST MADE only one mistake on this deal (an expensive one!). The oddity was that there were two quite distinct reasons for him to have avoided his error - either of which should have been enough on its own...

South opened 1 no-trumps (12-14 points) and North explored with a Stayman Two Clubs. On hearing his partner's denial of Two Diamonds, he went on to the no-trump game and West led #5 (fourth highest) against 3 no-trumps. East won with his ace and returned the queen. West looked at this for some while - should he overtake and clear the suit? Eventually he decided against doing so; he reasoned that (a) this might give declarer his ninth trick and (b) his partner might have a third diamond anyhow, when the contract would go two off. Now, without the overtake, it was easy for declarer to drive out 2A and land his contract.

There were, as I said, two strong counter-arguments to West's reasoning. First, he had clearly forgotten the bidding! Remember, South (unless he was in the habit of ad-libbing with his Stayman responses) had denied a four-card major. This meant that he could make at most seven tricks in the major suits and one diamond would not be enough. Secondly, if East had indeed started with #AQx, surely he would have played his queen on the first round? This would have been a completely standard play, designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for declarer to hold up with #Kxx.

Love all; dealer South


4A Q 5

!K J 9 7

#10 3

2Q J 9 5

West East

49 7 3 410 8 6 4

!10 4 2 !8 5 3

#K 9 8 5 2 #A Q

2A 7 28 6 4 2


4K J 2

!A Q 6

#J 7 6 4

2K 10 3