Easley Rutland Blackwood (June 25, 1903 – March 27, 1992) was an American contract bridge player and writer, best known for the Blackwood convention used in bridge bidding.

Blackwood was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but lived most of his life in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1968 to 1971 he was executive secretary of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). He was inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame in 1995. His son is Easley Blackwood Jr., a noted musician.

This is the first article from a series of articles with valuable teachings; that he published in some of the innumerable columns of bridge he wrote in the most important newspapers of his time. Stay tuned for more.

Ellensburg Daily Record – 10 Ene 1956

When you have some kind of a finesse to take to make your contract, put off the finesse until the last possible moment. In the meantime, try to get an accurate count on the opponents’ hands. In a surprisingly large number of cases this practice will guide you into the only winning line of play.

2Heart Suit strong

In today’s deal Mr. Champion opened the jack of spades against the heart slam. Miss Brash won with the ace and took three rounds of trumps, noting that Mr. Champion discarded the deuce and four of diamonds on the last two rounds.

Now the lazy and careless way to play the hand from this point would be to lead the six of diamonds to dummy’s ace with the intention of returning a diamond and finessing. If the diamonds finesse lost, the defenders would cash a spade for a one trick set. That would just be bad luck.

Bad Play

Actually, it would be more than bad luck. It would also be very bad play. There was no reason at all to take a diamond finesse toward Mr. Champion as early as the sixth trick. Miss Brash was not satisfied to play it that way and determination to get as good a count as possible on every hand explains why she bring home a lot of her super-optimistic contracts. There didn’t appear to be any play other than the diamond f-nesse, but there was no harm in looking for one.

So she cashed three clubs noting that the suit broke 4-3. Now she led a spade and Mr. Abel won with the queen.

Best Return

With nothing but spades and the 10 of diamonds, Mr. Abel made his best return, the king of spades. Miss Brash ruffed and when Mr. Champion failed to follow suit, discarding 10 of clubs, the opposing distribution was crystal-clear. Mr. Abel had started with six spades and he had shown exactly three clubs and three hearts, he could have only one diamond and if that one diamond were the queen or the 10, the contract was home.

Miss Brash therefore knew that her only hope was the “unnatural” play of the king of diamonds first. When the 10 dropped on her right, she led the six and took the marked finesse of dummy’s nine.