May 20, 2018

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Bridge

Questions occasionally arise from my acquaintances, such as: where do you get the hands selected for your column? That is easy to answer — from a lifetime of reading about and playing the game. But a less frequent question, much tougher to answer, is: why do you choose so many complex ones?

Of course, the reality is that the more complicated ones are the more interesting ones, particular for a columnist.

On the following deal, very few persons other than a writer would find give much of a retrospective consideration to it. It seems unworthy of any comment.

NORTH

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Questions occasionally arise from my acquaintances, such as: where do you get the hands selected for your column? That is easy to answer — from a lifetime of reading about and playing the game. But a less frequent question, much tougher to answer, is: why do you choose so many complex ones?

Of course, the reality is that the more complicated ones are the more interesting ones, particular for a columnist.

On the following deal, very few persons other than a writer would find give much of a retrospective consideration to it. It seems unworthy of any comment.

NORTH

♠ 7 4 3

♥ J 3 2

♦ A K Q 4

♣ 8 5 2

SOUTH

♠ A Q J 8 5 2

♥ A K

♦ J 6

♣ Q J 4

The auction followed the same course at both tables of an expert team-of-four contest:

W N E S

P P P 1♠

2NT 3♠ P 4♠

As many players do, West utilized his intervention after an original pass as a takeout for minor suits. East, who held the following, naturally was not interested in participating in the bidding, after North supported his partner by bidding three spades:

EAST

♠ K 10 9 6

♥ Q 10 8 7 3

♦ 9 8

♣ 7 3

At table one, West began the defence by leading king, ace and a third round of clubs.

East ruffed the third round of clubs and exited in hearts. Declarer then utilized the two dummy entries in diamonds to finesse successfully twice against East for the king of trumps and made the contract of four spades without any difficulty.

What was the play at the second table? It went identically, card for card.

Four spades bid, four spades made. What is commonly known as a "push", akin to a nil-nil result at soccer, one could say. Among the participants, no comments were exchanged.

Then a couple of days later, (actually, in the midst of a nightmare) one of the East players awoke to a startling realization. If he had discarded a diamond on the third round of clubs instead of ruffing it, he would have scored two tricks in trumps to set the contract.

Do you see the effect? That would leave South with only a solitary entry to dummy, since East would be in a position to ruff he second round of diamonds.

After one successful finesse, declarer would thereafter be obliged to play trumps from the South hand, leading to the inevitable failure of the contract.

Presented as a problem to be solved, a few expert players might have worked out the winning play after study.

Presented to them in the hurly-burly of actual play, or having the opportunity to make a speedy analysis afterward, no one did.

The truly great players are insomniacs at the table (and probably that carries over into their sleep habits all too frequently as well).

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