2016-10-25 / Entertainment

The unusual worked like a charm

Bridge
by Phillip Alder

John Buchan, a Scottish politician and author who wrote “The Thirty-Nine Steps,” said, “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”

The same can be said about bridge. Whenever you make a bid or play, you hope it will prove best. More often than not, it is right to stick to the tried-and-true actions, but occasionally doing something unusual will work like a charm.

In this deal, look only at the West hand. What would you lead against three notrump, given that you know from the Stayman auction that dummy will have four spades and declarer holds four hearts?

If South had denied a four-card major, North would have rebid three clubs, which would have shown game-forcing values, a fourcard major and longer clubs. Perhaps five clubs would have made and three notrump failed due to a fatal heart weakness.

In a social game, sitting West was Susan Ludwig of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Normally, one would have expected her to lead the diamond four. Here, that would have made the defense difficult. East would surely have won with his ace and returned a diamond. Then, though, declarer would have established the club suit and cruised home. To defeat the contract, East would have had to win the first trick and shift to hearts, a very tough play to find.

Ludwig led the heart jack, which worked perfectly. The defenders easily took three hearts, one diamond and one club.

Return to top