A Bridge Phantasmagoria
Game all: South deals.
McTavish at South opened One Spade and over a Two Diamond response rebid Two Hearts. When North now jumped to Four Spades, McTavish went straight to Six Spades.
West led the jack of hearts and when dummy showed, the outlook was considerably bright. There was a 68% probability of a 3-2 spade break, plus 50% of the remainder for the diamond finesse which added up to 84% in favour.
Dummy’s heart king won the heart lead, and the king and queen of spades broke the bad news. It was clear to McTavish that he could dispose of the fourth heart on the king of clubs, and that the slam would be good if West held the king of diamonds. So would reason the majority of players who would plunge to defeat and blame the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
McTavish, however, had an inborn hatred of blind finesses and avoided them like the plague. With brain ticking over furiously, he soon came up with the solution to the problem.
At the fourth trick, he played a heart to the ace and ruffed the six of hearts with the six of spades. Returning to hand with the ace of clubs, he drew a third round of trumps with the ace and followed with the queen of hearts on which he shed a club from dummy.
East postponed his fate by refusing to ruff but was then thrown the lead with a trump. He was now left with the Hobson’s choice of playing a club into the king-jack or leading away from the king of diamonds. Not knowing declarer’s holding in the latter, he understandably played a diamond and a gloating McTavish won with the ten. It only remained to get to dummy with the ace of diamonds to ditch the remaining diamond on the king of clubs.
2 PROTECTING THE ENTRY
Tricks are useless without an entry to them, so that if you have only one entry it must be protected at all costs.
Game all: West deals
South was debating his opening bid, whether Two Clubs, Two Diamonds or Two No-Trump, when East solved the problem by opening the bidding ahead of him. Good bidding then got North-South to their Five Diamond contract - McTavish at North correctly assessing his four trumps, singleton spade and his honour cards in hearts and clubs as full value for a raise.
West led the seven of spades and East won with the king, and seeing the possibility that North’s four trumps could be required as entry to the club suit, he continued with the ace to force a trump from dummy.
After ruffing the spade, South drew a couple of rounds of trumps and looked disgusted when the jack failed to drop. He drew a third round and after cashing the ace and king of clubs, he played the ace and another heart. In view of the opening bid, he placed the king of hearts with East and so he played small in dummy, in the hope that the king was doubleton. No joy and one down.
“All I wanted was a break in diamonds, wailed South.”
“You still don’t get it, said McTavish caustically, and he continued as if teaching a kindergarten class. When eleven tricks are required, you can afford to lose two. You simply let East win the first two tricks. If he carries on with spades, you ruff in your own hand and my fourth trump is intact as an entry after trumps are drawn and the clubs unblocked. No other return hurts you.”
An abashed South could only say “Sorry partner.”