A Bridge Phantasmagoria
CAN YOU SPOT THE FLAW?
The reports on the two hands, which follow, were flawed. You are challenged to find out wherein they were flawed.
North-South game: East deals.
South had barely completed the addition of his 23 points when he was jolted by a bid of Four Spades from East. Unwilling to settle for a penalty double, he bid 4NT for take-out. North passed the buck back to his partner by bidding Five Spades and South’s bid of Six Diamonds closed the auction.
West’s lead of the two of spades shrieked singleton. Winning the ace, South drew trumps in two rounds and could now count East for nine spades and therefore only two cards in the other two suits. He cashed the aces of hearts and clubs, stripping East of everything but spades and verifying that West stopped the hearts.
An ordinary player would see no hope and might opt for one down by throwing the lead to West with a heart on the fourth round and ducking the return of the club king.
South did much better. He played the queen of spades to East’s king, while dumping a heart from dummy. On the enforced spade return, he ruffed in hand and shed a club from dummy. On the run of the trumps he discarded the jack and deuce of clubs. The five of clubs in dummy had now become a menace to West, who found himself squeezed in clubs and hearts. Brilliant play by South had saved the day. Anything wrong?
Without the warning given above, many would have accepted the report as given, but the fact is that both South and East had erred. As the play went, East should refuse the queen of spades and South will lose a heart and a club. However South can ‘mac siccar’ by dumping the queen of spades at trick one and now there is no way that East can avoid the throw in.
Now cast a critical eye on the second report
Game all: South deals.
On the lead of the four of hearts, East covered the queen of hearts from dummy and South ruffed high. Dummy was entered with the nine of trumps and a small spade from dummy put the skids under East. If he put up the ace, declarer could discard two clubs on the spades and a third club on the good heart. If he played low, the king of spades would win and the seven of spades would go on the good heart and declarer could afford to lose a club and make contract.
West was anything but pleased and addressed his partner. “This contract should be beaten. If you do not cover the queen at trick one, what can South do? For starters, let us say that he discards a spade and leads a spade from the table. In that case you take your ace, but South has only two discards on the spades and it is not enough and he will lose a club later. Secondly, if he discards a club and leads a spade, you play small. After winning the king and drawing trumps, he can revert to spades but can only obtain one more discard and will eventually lose a club to me.”
“Sorry partner,” said East sheepishly. “I have been too quick with my aces and have let home a contract which cannot be made.” Satisfied?
“No. The slam contract should always be made. As was the case on the prior hand, South erred at trick1. A small heart should be played and not the queen. The nine from East is ruffed high and a trump to the nine is followed by a small spade. Note that South has not yet committed himself to any particular discard on the later heart winner. If East wins the ace of spades, South has two club discards on the spades with another to come on a heart once he has ruffed away the ace. Should East play low to the spade, the king wins and South can later ruff away the ace of hearts and discard the seven of spades on a good heart and cheerfully surrender a club.