Monday, March 06, 2006


Help me understand this bridge hand!

Let's see if I get any bites. I'm starting to read up on bridge after a 30-year hiatus, so I took a look at Frank Stewart's Bridge in the Washington Post today, and I can't figure out the play. Can anyone explain it to me?

The contract is 3NT. I count nine obvious tricks for the declarer with a possible tenth in spades. After South takes West's 4H and East's 10H with the K, he goes to spades, which West lets go by on the first round and then stops in the second with the A. Then he clinches the contract for his opponents by playing a diamond.

Stewart says that if West had led the 9C instead of the diamond, South would have been down by two. How? As far as I can figure, Stewart's idea is that East will have two extra club tricks after everyone else's clubs have been exhausted. But if East responds to the 9 with the A and immediately leads to West's K, then a third club would be taken by South's Q and East won't ever get another chance to lead. If East ducks on the 9, then South wins a club directly.

OK, maybe I have figured this out, but confirmation would be appreciated! Since West led a low heart, East expects that West would like one sent back his way at this point. The result will be a successful finesse on South's Q, whether or not East anticipated a finesse, and West will wind up with four tricks in hearts to add to the AS and AH tricks, for down two.

Well, this was a useful exercise, but I've always wished that the bridge columns would explain it that far instead of making me figure it out! The mental exertion is beneficial, but even after I've worked the deal out I'm not sure that I've got it quite right.

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