Rita Mae Brown quipped, “The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re OK, then it’s you.”

But at the bridge table, hope it is not you or your partner, just the opponents!

In this deal, South is in three no-trump. How should he continue after West leads the spade queen?

In the auction, if North had rebid three hearts or four hearts, that would have guaranteed at least a six-card suit. With only five hearts, North rebid three no-trump to offer his partner a choice of games. Holding just a doubleton in hearts, South passed.

The original mental case won the first trick and played a heart to the jack. East, a psychiatrist, ducked smoothly.

Declarer returned to his hand with a diamond and played a heart to the queen, but East won with his king and shifted to a club.

South won on the board and cashed the heart ace, getting the bad news. His only chance now was a 3-3 diamond split, but that did not materialize, and declarer finished down one.

North pointed out that as his partner had started with six winners outside hearts, he needed only three tricks from that suit, not four. So, on the first round, he should have run his eight.

North continued, “East wins with his 10 and plays a club, but you take that trick in your hand and play a heart to the jack, establishing the necessary number of winners.”

Often in no-trump it pays to lose early if you wish to win eventually.

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