A Bridge Phantasmagoria
AN INGENIOUS FLOP
Love All: South deals
Three No-trump would have been easy, but Four Hearts it was. West started off with two top clubs on the second of which East flashed the nine of diamonds. Ignoring his partners signal, West continued with a small club, forcing his partner to ruff, and South overruffed.
The ace of hearts showed up the bad break and South realised that if he drew all the trumps, there was no way back to the jack of spades. He concluded that his only hope was to cash the ace and king of spades and then to pull trumps, discarding the blocking queen of spades and pray that the jack-eight would be good. Alas, West ruffed and a later diamond loser cost the contract.
At this point North had a sudden inspiration. He had not had an idea like this in many a year, and here was an ego boosting opportunity that he grabbed with both hands. “To play for a spade break is all against the odds. Even without East’s signal, it is even money for him to have the king of diamonds, in which case the contract becomes a certainty,” announced North, not showing his hand at this point, as he wished to mystify everyone.
East duly obliged, “I don’t see what good that does.”
“Neither do I,” echoed West, feeling that he could not be too dumb if his partner was still in the dark. South maintained a brooding silence.
North explained. “The better play would be to draw all the trumps and discard the ace of diamonds. Now cash all the top spades and play diamond off the table. East is forced to yield entry to the jack of spades.”
“You should send that one to the papers,” said West but South said not a word.
“Can’t you give your partner credit for an ingenious play,” said East to South, who at last broke silence.
“I realised my mistake long ago, but no-one else has. All I had to do at trick three was to discard my losing diamond, and barring a 5-0 trump break or a spade ruff, I could table my cards.”
North’s sheepish look said it all.