In the text books on bridge there are examples of all the technical devices which a good bridge player must have at his command. There are hands illustrating end plays, squeezes, eliminations, throw-ins and so on.
These are very fine as basic information. But each one is simplified to make the message clear.
In actual play, things are usually more complicated. The good play, if it is there at all, is not as easily recognized as it was in the book. Maybe you didn’t get the favorable opening lead which you got in the book example. Possibly there is a choice of plays, and if you try -for a squeeze you may find that a simple finesse would have done a better job.
The truth is that there are several lines of play to choose from on at least half of the hands you play. Let me show you some deals where decisions of this kind had to he made, with the reason for the final choice in each case. In today’s hand Mr. Masters led the king of clubs. How would you play to win nine tricks?
North dealer. Neither vulnerable.
Contract: 3NT By South, lead the king of clubs.
Mr. Champion felt that he had to duck the first trick. The queen of clubs followed. What would you do here?
This is how Mr. Champion, figured it. Against a very poor defender he would have duck, a second time. But against Mr. Masters he knew that if he did, he would very probably get a spade shift and then the ace of clubs would never win a trick. So he took the ace of clubs a this point. Now came the big question…
Should diamonds be led first?-If they broke 3-3, 10 tricks would be available. The heart finesse looked dangerous, it was likely that Mr. Dale still had a club to return if the got in with the king or hearts.
Nevertheless, Mr. Champion did take the heart finesse and he ended up with nine tricks. Why did he choose the apparently the more dangerous alternative?
The answer is that it gave him a better chance for his contract. The heart finesse was a 50-50 chance. As for the diamond play, there were six outstanding cards in the suit and Mr. Champion knew they would be 3-3 only 36 times in 100. The odds in favor of the heart finesse, then, were 50 to 36.