Boca Raton News – 4 Dic 1973

Col. Samuel R. Johnson, a returned POW from North Vietnam, is now attending the National War College in Washington, D.C, Colonel Johnson relates that the prisoners were rather isolated until after 1970. At that time their captors gave them cards and «we played bridge almost day and night.» Tournaments were held at least twice each week, and Colonel Johnson thinks that most participants became better players because of the opportunity to concentrate on thousands of bridge hands. Colonel Johnson remembers an instructive hand dealing with an avoidance play — a rather appropriate subject for POW’s.

Vulnerable: All Dealer: West

Opening Lead: Jack of hearts

West led the heart jack and declarer won with the queen. A quick count of sure tricks outside the club suit revealed one spade, one heart and two diamonds — four tricks — leaving declarer with the luxury of being able to lose a club trick to the queen.

Most declarers would quickly recognize that the avoidance play in the club suit must be made against East to prevent a lead through declarer’s remaining heart honor. However, a routine plan would not work. For example, if declarer led a club to dummy’s ace with the intention of finessing «on the way back,» the hand would be lost when West showed out of clubs.

Declarer would then be able to finesse against East’s queen only once, and the clubs could not be developed without giving East the lead. The winning play (which was made at the «table») was to lead a diamond to dummy’s king and to take a first-round club finesse against East. If this had lost to West’s singleton queen, West could not attack the heart suit and the contract would be safe.

As it turned out, the first-round finesse proved a safety play against East’s holding all four clubs. The finesse was repeated, and the entire club suit was cashed to make the contract with an overtrick. After such careful play of the club suit, declarer dared not risk the spade finesse in spite of West’s opening bid. After all, who can rely on a bridge-starved player always to have a full opening bid?