THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE FORM OF SCORING MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Henri Poincare, a French mathematician who died in 1912, said, “Ideas rose in clouds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination.”
Despite lots of groundbreaking work, he only became famous with the study of chaotic dynamics, which started in 1963. Poincare is considered the Father of Chaos.
At the bridge table, you try to keep things orderly, but sometimes the form of scoring can make life chaotic. For example, in today’s deal South is in three no-trump. What should he do after West leads the spade six if his only job is to make the contract; or if he is playing in a pair event (a duplicate) and would like to win as many tricks as possible?
North, despite having only 19 high-card points, was tempted to open two no-trump. But he decided against it because of the weak club holding.
South seems to start with six top tricks: three spades (given the lead), two hearts and one diamond. And surely he can establish four club tricks. However, if the defender with the club ace holds it up until the second round, declarer will need a hand entry, which must be the spade king.
So, if making the contract is all that counts, South should win the first trick with dummy’s spade ace, then lead the club jack and another club. The contract is home.
In a pair event, though, it will be tempting to hope that West has led fourth-highest from a suit headed by the queen and call for dummy’s spade 10 at trick one. Here, that costs the contract, because West has led second-highest from a weak suit — unlucky.