You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, April 3: Care for losers, not for trumps

By Phillip Alder

Agnes Martin was a Canadian-born American painter who considered herself an abstract expressionist. She said, "Any material may be used, but the theme is the same and the response is the same for all artwork. The artist must pursue the truth relentlessly."

A good bridge column has a theme and the writer pursues the truth relentlessly -- but, one hopes, with a lightness of touch.

The theme of this deal creates havoc with some of my students. How would you play in four hearts after West leads the spade queen?

The bidding was borderline. Opposite North's game-invitational limit raise, you had a minimum opening bid with seven losers (two spades, one heart, two diamonds and two clubs). This suggested that you should have passed out three hearts, but that would have ruined the story.

You start with four losers: one in each suit. You must do something about that spade loser.

An immediate trump play is fatal if East returns a spade. You must organize a discard for your spade loser.

At trick two, you should attack clubs. But a crafty West will duck the first round, take the second, and lead another spade. You had better win this trick in your hand, so that you can cash the third club and pitch dummy's remaining spade. Then, sooner or later, you can ruff your remaining spade on the board.

Did you win the first trick on the board, retaining your spade ace as the later entry to the club winner? Did you then lead the club king, to avoid blocking the suit?

** ** **