He didn't heed his own advice

October 11, 1959

The switcheroo is a device that makes an old story new. For example, there's the bewhiskered tale of the chap who wanted to unload some stock and started a rumor that the company had struck oil. His rumor traveled fast and far. He heard it so often and so positively that instead of selling he bought some more.

The switcheroo would go like this. The company actually does strike oil. But our wise-guy hero says, "Heck, I'm not going to be caught by that old chestnut. I'm the guy who started the rumor."

In a way, that is what happened to East when, having convinced his partner that desperate measures were required, he began to doubt his own advice.

A delicate touch characterized the bidding up to the point where North made his slightly overenthusiastic commitment. South's modest bid of one club and North's response of one spade gave no hint of the oncoming fury. South's rebid of two diamonds is a reasonable choice. With a somewhat touchy holding in both majors, he chose to describe a strong hand containing nine cards in the minors. (Strong, because he had bid a higher-ranking suit at the two-level; nine cards, because when a player reverses in touching suits he almost invariably indicates that the lower-ranking one is longer.)

North clung to the delicate treatment with a rebid of his six-card spade suit. South then thought it high time he contracted for game, and North decided to stop fencing. The reverse bid of two diamonds, coupled with the jump bid in no trump, was sufficient to incite him to drastic action. While he could not place his fingers on 33 points, he was influenced by the value of a six-card suit opposite a strong hand.

It seems to me that the character of his six-card suit might have induced a more cautious attitude. The bidding had shown South to hold at most two spades. (He needed at least two hearts to hold a stopper in that suit, since North knew he didn't have the ace, and he had already announced five clubs and four diamonds.)

East had two good reasons for doubling the six no-trump bid. His holding in spades guaranteed that the contract would be set if that suit were led, and his double of a slam bid conventionally called for the lead of dummy's suit, which was exactly what East wanted.

West dutifully led a spade. East won the trick and began to suffer the twin onslaughts of doubt and greed. Maybe the spade lead hadn't been necessary after all. Maybe partner had an honor in clubs. And even if he didn't South's five club tricks, three diamonds and three hearts would total only 11 tricks. So, ignoring his own warning, East returned a club.

But East had been absolutely right in the first place, as he soon discovered. When declarer ran five clubs and three hearts East could not find two discards. He could spare one little diamond, but on the next trick he could not give up either a diamond or a spade without simultaneously giving up the ghost. For, when East parted with another diamond on the third heart lead, South discarded his jack of spades and his remaining diamonds were high.

Observe that it takes the spade lead to sink the contract. With any other lead East succumbs to the same squeeze. If he lets go a high spade declarer establishes a spade trick. If he bares down to three diamonds declarer has 12 tricks without winning a spade.

EXTRA TRICK
To paraphrase an old proverb, a trick in the book is worth two in the hand—especially when it's the setting trick.

PHOTO

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

WEST

[10 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[10 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[9 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Jack of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

EAST

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[8 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Club]
2 [Diamond]
3 N.T.
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

1 [Spade]
2 [Spade]
6 N.T.
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS
DOUBLE

Opening lead: Spade 2

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)