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 Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, April 4: The certainty or the guess?

By Phillip Alder

Rudyard Kipling claimed that "a woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty."

At the bridge table, though, a certainty -- a guaranteed line of play or defense -- is much better than a guess, regardless of the gender of the guesser.

In this deal, South is in four hearts. West leads the spade queen. When East encourages with his eight, West continues the suit, and South trumps the third round. How would a guesser play from there? What would someone preferring a certainty do?

With a balanced hand, South is only just worth his jump to game. But if he prefers a game-try, what try does he make? Nothing really fits the bill. And then North would be in a quandary. Eight points is a maximum, but 4-3-3-3 is a big minus. Note that three no-trump makes easily here, but next time the spades will be 5-3.

The guesser cashes the heart ace and diamond ace, crosses to dummy with a trump, and plays a diamond to the jack. Here, West wins with the queen and exits carefully with a diamond. Now South must guess which opponent holds the club queen. Maybe (s)he will get it right; maybe (s)he won't.

The declarer who prefers not to guess sees that this is a sure-trick deal. After drawing trumps, (s)he plays three rounds of diamonds. What does West do when in with his queen?

Returning a spade concedes a ruff-and-sluff. South ruffs in one hand and sluffs a club from the other. And West's shift to a club finds the queen for declarer. It is a perfect elimination and endplay.

** ** **