Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
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