Gettysburg Times – 13 Oct 1989

WINNING DEFENSE 66 YEARS AGO

How good were the bridge players of several generations ago?

This hand is from Milton Work’s Auction Bridge of 1924. What surprises us is the note that it was played on a commuter train in 1923!

Neither vulnerable. South deals.

Lead: spadeK

The game was auction bridge, so the bidding shown is as it might go today. When North shows interest in a grand slam by confirming possession of all aces and asking for kings, South diagnoses correctly that his solid hearts make shooting for 13 tricks a worthwhile effort. We venture to claim that most declarers would have little difficulty fulfilling the grand slam.

Declarer wins the first trick and ruffs a spade high. On this trick, East must find a discard. If the defender sluffs a diamond, the long card in dummy sets up. Similarly, a club pitch allows declarer to take four tricks in that suit.

The winning defense is for East to discard—a trump! Now declarer cannot avoid losing a minor-suit trick. If South cashes all four trumps, dummy is squeezed before East. East simply discards whichever suit declarer lets go from dummy. If declarer discards a club from the table on the fourth heart, the long club in his hand is established, but there is no entry to the closed hand to cash the trick.

If they could defend that well in a commuter game, we would have dreaded crossing swords with those players at rubber bridge. It might have proved to be an expensive pastime.