Bridge: Aug. 13, 2023

Bridge: Aug. 13, 2023

When a player takes an unsuccessful action — but one he is sure was correct — he may appeal to higher authority. Players often come to me seeking support for a bid or play, or asking me to assess blame for a partnership mix-up.

It’s not a pleasant job; I’m sure to make at least one person unhappy. Moreover, bridge is an ego-driven game, and no matter what I say, a player will tend to remain persuaded by the logic that led him to the losing action.

Two players brought me today’s deal. Against four hearts, West had led a spade, and East took the queen and ace. South won the third spade and drew trumps. Finding no miracle in diamonds, he lost two diamonds.

The point of contention was the bidding.

“Four hearts was a poor contract,” North argued. “We’re better off at 3NT. We make it if West leads a spade and have a chance with a club lead. My partner should bid 2NT or 3NT at his second turn.”

“Bidding notrump with J-3-2 in spades never occurred to me,” South said. “Four hearts was a normal spot. It just happened to fail.”

Their disagreement struck me as silly. I opined that nobody had made a clear error. Even if South bid notrump, North might insist on hearts with two low clubs.

I didn’t pour gas on the fire by noting that four hearts was cold on a “partial elimination.” After South wins the third spade, he takes the K-Q of trumps and A-K of clubs, then leads the ace and a low diamond. East wins and is end-played: He must lead a black card, and South discards his last diamond as dummy ruffs.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable


S K 10 6

H A 6 2

D J 8 7 6 2

C 10 3


S 8 7 5

H 7 5 3

D K 10 9

C J 9 7 4


S A Q 9 4

H 8 4

D Q 3

C Q 8 6 5 2


S J 3 2

H K Q J 10 9

D A 5 4


South West North East
1 H Pass 2 H Pass
3 H Pass 4 H All Pass
Opening lead — S 8

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