Updated: January 19, 2013 6:06AM
John Ruskin, a multitalented Englishman who died in 1900 at the age of 80, said, “The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances, and demonstrations for impressions.”
At the bridge table, inexperienced players tend to follow “rules” instead of treating each deal on its own merits. Yes, it is true that guidelines work most of the time; but occasionally some flexibility is required.
In today’s deal, how can East-West defeat four spades after West leads the heart queen?
North had an unappealing rebid. But one no-trump was less bad than anything else. When he tabled his dummy, he put the club jack behind the spade nine to make it look as if he had two trumps!
South has one loser in each red suit, so can afford only one trump loser. There are two ways to do that, mathematically identical, giving him just over a 24 percent chance of success. He can run dummy’s nine, or he can lead dummy’s nine and play his queen.
Here, running the nine works. West wins with his king, but South’s remaining three honors draw the rest of his trumps.
Putting the queen on the nine fails, because West’s eight wins the fourth round of the suit.
However, I hope you have noticed that South has no chance if East defends correctly. We have the canon “cover an honor with an honor.” True, the nine is not an honor — it missed that rating by one. But here it is acting like an honor. East should cover the nine with his jack. Then West will take two trump tricks to defeat the contract.