Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 15 Jun 1948

Dealer South Neither Vul

10 9 7 6 3
Q 4
Q 7 3
Q 8 2
A 5
10 9 8 6
10 9 4
K 9 6 5
4 2
A 5 3 2
8 6 2
A J 7 3
K Q J 8
K J 7
A K J 5
10 4
West North East South
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass Pass

Opening lead 10

In the practice of legerdemain, the technique of the magician is to engage the attention of the audience in what he is doing with one hand, while with the other he performs, quite unseen, whatever labors are called for by the particular act of magic. The same technique may sometimes be employed at the card table.

In today’s hand, South, the declarer, succeeded in getting the opposition’s attention centered around one suit to the complete neglect of the other. The bidding is recorded as it took place, though some players will not lend their complete approval. It will be seen that there are four top card tricks “off” the hand which immediately disqualifies the contract for any Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

However, the hand is so constructed that it is somewhat difficult to keep from gliding into the game contract. The first round of bidding is normal and South, I think, is justified in making one more try despite his partner’s indifferent response. Some players would show the diamond suit in the hope that such action might lead to a successful no trump contract, or at least help partner to determine whether the hand fits or not. However, South’s choice on this hand turned out to be a happier one. North should really pass the three spade bid because he has so little playing strength. The fifth trump has a strange psychological effect on most players. On hands like this the fifth trump is many times just so much surplus.

West led the ten of hearts. East won with the ace and returned the suit. Declarer went up with the king and immedi-ately played the jack of hearts. It was plain that the contract was doomed to failure unless the enemy’s attention could be diverted from the club suit when the ace of trumps was driven out. So, on the jack of hearts declarer discarded a diamond from dummy.

When West took the ace of trumps, he was mind-ful of the speed with which declarer had disposed of one of dummy’s diamonds and concluded that that was the weak spot in the hand. He therefore shifted to the ten of diamonds. This was taken by declarer with the queen. The trumps were drawn and two of dummy’s clubs discarded on South’s good diamonds. West had been thrown off the scent. Whether or not he should have been is another story. But South could do no more.