THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE ODDS ARE LOW BUT NOT IGNORED
Aristotle said, “All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, desire.”
Which of those seven apply to a bridge deal?
Definitely chance, occasionally habit, one hopes reason, every so often passion, and — surely — always desire (to succeed). Of the others, I have heard a player, when commenting on a deal, say, “It is the nature of the beast.” Compulsion also rears its ugly head, a player saying something like, “I felt a compulsion to lead a club, even though I was sure it was wrong.”
In today’s deal, South is in four hearts. West leads the diamond ace, cashes the diamond king, and gives his partner a diamond ruff. East shifts to the club king. How should declarer proceed?
It looks too simple — take dummy’s top trumps, cash the diamond 10 for a club pitch, and claim. But when West immediately shows out in hearts, the contract will compulsorily fail.
South should consider the chance of East’s having started with all four trumps. A priori it is about 5 percent, but with diamonds known to be 4-2, the percentage has risen to nearly 7 — that number again.
Declarer should play a spade to his ace before leading a heart to dummy. If the hearts are 3-1 or 2-2, no worries. But when they are 4-0, South calls for the spade queen. If East plays low, declarer discards his club loser. If East covers with his king, South ruffs, plays a trump to dummy, and throws his last club on the spade jack.
Two chances are better than one.