THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
FOR A PLUS SCORE, THINK SAFETY FIRST
Confucius said, “The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security, he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come.”
For someone who died in 479 B.C., he came out with some doozies.
At the bridge table, an expert always wonders about dangers — distributions that might upset his contract. This deal would be misplayed by the unwary, who would assume all will be secure. But how would a careful declarer proceed? South is in four spades. West leads the heart ace, cashes the king and shifts to a low club.
South’s two-club rebid was New Minor Forcing. It promised at least game-invitational values and asked partner to describe his hand further. Here, North bid two spades to show three-card support.
South has two losers outside the trump suit, so he can afford one spade loser but not two. Regardless, the mathematicians tell us that five missing cards will divide 3-2 a whopping 76.8 percent of the time. So what’s the problem? Win the third trick, play a spade to dummy’s king, and return a spade to the ace … and go down one. We forget that a 4-1 split has a probability of 28.3 percent — not a lot short of one time in three.
As no doubt you have noticed, on the second round of trumps, South should play his 10. When it wins, he can claim. But if it loses to the jack or queen, spades are breaking 3-2 and the contract is safe.