Source: The Evening Independent – Jun 15, 1964

Dealer North N/S Vul

9 6 4
K 9 4
K Q J 7 2
A 10
10 7 5 2
J 6 3 2
9 4
K 6 5
8
A Q 10 8 5
A 8 3
9 8 7 4
A K Q J 3
7
10 6 5
Q J 3 2
West North East South
Pass 1 1 1
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead: J

One of the most difficult problems a bridge player faces is that of knowing when to break a rule.

The book lead from the West hand is the deuce of hearts, but West decided to lead the jack. He wanted to be able to continue hearts in the event that dummy showed up with the guarded king. Against the deuce of hearts lead. South would have had no trouble making five odd.

Against the jack of hearts lead and a heart continuation, he could have made four odd by double dummy play. He actually went down one.

Hearts were continued and he ruffed the second heart. Then he led two rounds of trumps only to get the sad news about the bad break. Undaunted, he shifted to a diamond. East won the second diamond with the ace and returned a heart, South ruffed and played another diamond.

West ruffed that and led a fourth round of hearts. This gave South a Hobson’s choice*, he could ruff in dummy and have no way to get back to his hand to pull West’s last trump, or he could ruff in his own hand and establish West’s ten spot.

How could South have made the hand double dummy? He could have led only one round of trumps before going after diamonds.

*The term “Hobson’s choice” is often used to mean an illusion of choice, but it is not a choice between two equivalent options, which is a Morton’s fork, nor is it a choice between two undesirable options, which is a dilemma. Hobson’s choice is one between something or nothing.