Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
WHEN YOU are in the closing stages of a big pairs tournament and, although doing well, feel that a good score or two is needed to end in the big money, it is sometimes a fair idea to deviate (just slightly) from the straight and narrow.

Take this deal - the bidding was very straightforward and (a vital point) extremely likely to be duplicated all round the room. South opened 2NT, North raised directly to 6NT, and West led 4J.

In practice, nearly all the South players won in hand, crossed to !Q, and led 2J - planning to finesse and so make all 13 tricks if East held 2Q and the suit divided 3-2 and, in any case, apparently ensuring the contract. It did not work out like that - the 5-0 club break meant that there were now only three tricks to come from the suit and, when the diamond finesse failed, so did the contract.

So, how would you have tackled matters if you had been in South's position? Our hero won the spade lead in hand and led a low club from hand! This was a play that gave up any thoughts of an overtrick by absolutely guaranteeing 12 tricks against any club distribution (if East held all the clubs, the eight could later be finessed and, as the cards lay, a further club lead from hand gave the required four tricks in the suit).

I doubt whether declarer would have played in this fashion if the deal had come along earlier in the tournament, but his play is certainly worth noting. Without any question, it would have been the right thing to do at rubber bridge or teams play.

Game all; dealer South


4A Q 2

!Q 5 4

#A J 7 3

2J 10 3

West East

4J 10 9 8 46 5 4 3

!J 8 !10 9 6 3 2

#5 2 #Q 10 9 8

2Q 9 7 6 5 2none


4K 7

!A K 7

#K 6 4

2A K 8 4 2