Pursuits: Bridge

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THIS WAS a delicately balanced hand from a recent pairs event. It was close, both as to whether West could make Two Spades or North could get home in Three Diamonds (in both cases a trump lead would have given the defenders their best chance) and anything on the plus side rated to score well.

At the table I watched, West opened One Spade, North cautiously passed and East raised obstructively to Two Spades. South and West passed and North (wishing that he had bid on the first round) reopened with a double. His partner's response of Three Clubs did not cheer him but he decided to pass rather than convert to diamonds.

West started with three top spades against Three Clubs and declarer ruffed. Now came a trump finesse, losing to the king, and East returned a heart. After taking his ace, West continued hearts and it was all over.

East was annoyed: "Couldn't you see that when you got in with !A a fourth spade gives declarer a ruff and discard that cannot help him? Wherever he ruffs, I come to a second trump trick!"

Well, that was certainly true, but East could have made it a lot easier for this partner if he had simply allowed the trump finesse to win. The difference is that, if declarer perseveres with trumps, East takes his king on the third round. Then, with no trumps left on the table, it is much easier for West to play a fourth round of spades when he is in with !A.

Love all; dealer West


4J 7 3

!Q 10 8

#K J 10 7 3

2A 8

West East

4A K Q 10 2 49 6 5

!A 7 6 !9 5 4 3

#9 6 5 #8 4

27 4 2K 9 3 2


48 4

!K J 2

#A Q 2

2Q J 10 6 5