Moscow-Pullman Daily News – 9 May 1997

Philip Alder
Philip Alder

The uglier a man’s legs, the better his golf game, H.G. Wells observed. It’s almost a law, he added. I wonder what the present-day pros think about that. And if Wells were alive today, what would be his comment about bridge experts?

Lithe fingers for good shuffling? Wide eyelid fissure so as never to miss a card? Who knows! As you are aware, the real difference between good players and the less able is the amount of counting done as a deal progresses. How would you plan the play in four spades in to day’s deal?

Vulnerable: Neither. Dealer West

Spade SuitA Q J 10
Heart SuitK 5 3 2
Diamond Suit10 8
club suitA J 2
Spade Suit7 5 4
Heart SuitQ9 6
Diamond SuitA K Q J 9
club suitQ 7 3
Spade Suit8 2
Heart SuitA 10 8 7
Diamond Suit7 6 3
club suit8 6 5 4
Spade SuitK 9 6 3
Heart SuitQ J 4
Diamond Suit5 4 2
club suitK 10 9

The Auction:

West North East South
1Heart Suit Dble  Pass 2Spade Suit
Pass 4Spade Suit Pass Pass
Pass

Opening lead: Diamond SuitA

West cashes two rounds of diamonds before exiting with a trump. Opposite his partner’s take-out double, South’s jump to two spades shows 9-11 points with at least four spades. Despite the sterile 4-3-3-3 distribution, South is worth the bid, as he has three working honors In the suits partner promised with his double.

To make this contract, you must guess the club suit correctly. Always leave the key suit as late as possible. Also, when the dummy comes down following a competitive auction, count up the points. Here, dummy has 15 and you have nine.

That leaves only 16 for the opponents. After drawing trumps, find out who holds the heart ace. Surprisingly, it is East. So, for his opening bid, West must have 100 honors in diamonds and the club suitQ.

You should cash the club king, then finesse through West to make the contract. Here, declarer’s play was guided by the point-count. Defenders, taking their cue from the bidding, should also use point-count to place the missing honors.