A Bridge Phantasmagoria
A FALSE DIVERSION
We have all seen a diversion sign, requiring traffic to take an alternative route. On the hand below, McTavish erected just such a sign and diverted declarer down the wrong road.
Love all: North deals
North opened the bidding with One Club, apparently fearful that his partner might pass One Heart but find a response to One Club.
This approach is not uncommon, but one could look plain silly if the hand were then passed out and dummy showed up with two small clubs and four or more hearts. Anyway, if partner cannot rake up a response to One Heart, the chances of game are too remote for serious consideration.
As it happened, South responded One Heart, raised to game by North with the end result that the strong hand had become exposed on the table. North was soon to bitterly regret his opening bid, which allowed McTavish at West to make the first lead - the seven of spades.
Clearly East is now able to make three spade tricks, or so one would imagine. It was equally clear that the success or failure of the contract depended wholly on which way the declarer broached the trump suit.
Everyone, to whom I have presented the hand, agrees that it is close to a fifty-fifty guess whether to start with the ace or king, but I reckon that McTavish gave him no chance to make the right guess. He ruffed his partner’s third good spade and led through a club as if to relieve his partner from an awkward return.
It certainly did not now occur to South that McTavish could possibly have the queen of hearts and so very predictably, he started on trumps by playing the king. He could not credit his eyesight when East discarded. “Having no hearts?” he asked disbelievingly.” “Nary a one,” replied East happily guessing from South’s startled looks that his partner had once again been up to his little tricks.