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Bridge: It’s Strategy That Counts by Alan Truscott

Source: The New York Times

Bridge: It’s Strategy That Counts, Not a Tactical Advantage by ALAN TRUSCOTT, Published: February 26, 1982


6 5
Q J 8 4
K Q J 8 6 4

K Q 9
9 7 6 5
9 8 4
A 9 5


A 8 7 4 3 2
Q J 10 6
7 3


J 10
A K 10 2
A K 7 5 2
10 2

Oeste Norte Este Sur
  Pass 1 Pass
3 Pass 4 The End

One of the differences between a moderately good bridge player and an expert, like the difference between an Army major and a commanding general, is that he is likely to be obsessed by short-term tactical advantages and to lose sight of long-term strategy.

Consider for example the diagramed deal from a recent Regional Swiss Team Championship in Bermuda. At both tables the contract was four hearts, although from different sides of the table.

At one table, Major Moderate, directing the battle from the North side of the table, seized his tactical opportunity after the opening lead of the diamond queen by taking two diamond winners discarding a spade. Discovers He Is in Trouble

He expected to draw trumps, drive out the club ace, and make an overtrick. But when two rounds of trumps revealed the bad break he was in trouble. He now turned his attention to clubs, but West won the second round and played spades.

North ruffed the second round and played clubs, but was helpless when West ruffed and played his remaining diamond. This forced the last trump from the North hand, and West still had a trump to stop the run of clubs.

In the replay, the auction followed the course shown in the diagram. North-South were using a canape style, and the jump shift by a passed hand promised a fit in the opener’s suit.

The opening lead was again a diamond, a mysterious choice, from the West side of the table. South was Chuck Lamprey of White Plains, who would be a general in anyone’s bridge army. He did not fall into the tactical trap of attempting to discard a spade quickly from dummy.

He was willing to lose two spades and a diamond, but he did not wish to give the defense a chance to weaken dummy’s trumps. So, after winning the diamond lead, Lamprey simply cashed the ace and ten of hearts. If the trumps had broken he could have taken the spade discard, drawn the last trump and played clubs.

As it was he simply played clubs. West won the second round and shifted to spades, but after two rounds of that suit the defense was helpless. South still controlled diamonds, and another spade lead could be and was ruffed with the heart ace. Trumps were drawn, and dummy’s clubs brought home the contract.


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