A Bridge Phantasmagoria
BEATING THE AIR
Love all: South deals
West led the jack of clubs and declarer let this run round to his king. As one of his losing diamonds could now go away on the third club, South had visions of eleven tricks. Two rounds of trumps disabused his mind of that idea, but of course he was still able to discard a diamond by cashing the ace and king of clubs.
He now started to play off his hearts. Unfortunately, McTavish at East, ruffed the queen on the third round and eventually a heart had to be lost to West and that meant one down.
South started to bemoan his vile luck, but McTavish cut him off, saying, “You still don’t see it, do you? When you discover the bad trump break, all you have to do is to cash the ace and king of hearts before playing the ace and queen of clubs for your diamond discard.
The crucial difference is that you are now leading the third round of hearts from the table and not from your own hand. If I ruff I am BEATING THE AIR actually ruffing your losing four of hearts. If I do not ruff, you win the queen of hearts and ruff a heart in dummy. An overruff does me no good at all. You were given an opportunity with the club lead, whereas a diamond lead would have given you no chance.”
All too late all had been made crystal clear, but South had
been given a very useful tip. When unable to draw trumps, and there is a danger
of a ruff by a defender, you should contrive to play towards any honour behind
danger man, so that if he ruffs, you can save the honour and play a small one.
In other words, a ruff would simply be a case of BEATING THE AIR.