A Bridge Phantasmagoria




Many moons ago the Glasgow Buchananites sent forth a task force of six couples to do battle with the upstart Carltonians of the East but had to return from whence they came, duly chastened to the tune of 1700 points.

Seldom does one encounter a hand of more than passing interest on which there is no swing, but in this match at every table the contract was Four Spades as was the lead of the jack of diamonds. Six out of six declarers went down, so if you feel disposed to test your dummy play you should cover up the East-West cards.

Older readers who have read the famous Red Book on Play, will recall that some Frenchman had actually shown the legendary Ely Culbertson the best play of the spades in the hand below, but lacking the fifth spade. The play with eight cards is to take two finesses but with nine cards the late Terence Reese (whom no-one contradicted) taught us the safety play to avoid two losers, was to lay down the ace on the first round.

Not before time, you may be thinking. Here is the hand in question and assuming you have covered the East-West cards make your play and demonstrate your superiority as compared with the old guard.


S Q852
H K6
D A54
C Q1083


S -
H J83
D J1097632
C A52


S KJ76
H Q10972
D K8
C 94


S A10943
H A54
C KJ76


Neither the Frenchman nor Culbertson has told us how to avoid three trump losers, so let me be the first. After winning the ace of diamonds, lead the deuce of spades and simply cover whatever card comes from East. Even were you to lose to a singleton jack, you need not even bother to take a second finesse. You can win the ace on the second round and go about your business, leaving the king floating until East decides whether or not to use it as a ruffer. The point is that on this hand you can Afford to Lose Two Trump Tricks.

The best method of losing three trumps as adopted by some declarers, was a follows. Lay down the spade ace at trick two and feel let down by Reese when West discards a diamond. Lead back to dummyís eight and win the club return which West had ducked. After ruffing out the heart loser, play a trump to Eastís king and congratulate the defenders when East puts his partner on lead with the ace of clubs for a club ruff and his Third Trump Trick.

The second best way of losing three trump tricks as chosen by the others, is to lead the queen of spades at trick two. The cover by the king is pleasing, but less so when West throws a diamond on your ace. On a spade back to the eight, East wins the jack and you have to ruff his king of diamonds. The king and ace of hearts is followed by a heart ruff and a club to Westís ace. West continues with a diamond and you are ruffing again. At this point you have one trump and three clubs in each hand and East has two trumps and two good hearts.

To avoid going Two Down, you have to make East ruff twice in clubs and once again three trump tricks are lost.

If you think I have been devious in discussing the safety play to avoid two losers, I have to admit it, but it was thinking on these lines that side tracked the declarers.

My own alibi, and I am sticking to it, was that I was either a defender or dummy, as very conveniently I have mislaid a record of the players involved.


by Carl Dickel