A lot of points, but too few tricks
By Phillip Alder June 8, 2012 2:02PM
Updated: July 12, 2012 6:04AM
Raymond Chandler, whose most famous character was detective Philip Marlowe, said, “Everything a writer learns about the art or craft of fiction takes just a little away from his need or desire to write at all. In the end he knows all the tricks and has nothing to say.”
Maybe that’s why he wrote only seven full-length novels. However, the more a bridge player learns about a deal, the better his chances of winning tricks and leaving his opponents with nothing but a minus score.
In this deal, South is in three no-trump. West leads the spade three. East wins the trick with his king and returns the spade 10, the higher of two remaining cards. West takes three more tricks in the suit, East discarding a club, and declarer pitching a heart from the board and a diamond from his hand. West now shifts to a heart. How should South continue?
North thought the contract would be easy, but the mirror distribution was, as usual, bad news.
South has only eight top tricks: three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs. He has to find the diamond queen to get home. But since he can finesse through either opponent, he should wait as long as possible before tackling that suit.
Declarer cashes his three heart and three club winners, seeing West throw a low diamond on the last club. What has South learned?
He has found out that West started with four spades, three or four hearts and two clubs. Ergo, he holds three or four diamonds. Similarly, East has at most two diamonds. The odds are clear. Declarer cashes his diamond king, then runs the 10 through West.