Good saws need teeth

March 28, 1960

As the coiner of an occasional maxim—for example, "An opening bid facing an opening bid equals game"—I have no wish to depreciate my own currency. But a maxim cannot be more than a general guide. For instance, it may be true, as the aphorists say, that "all roads lead to Rome," but it does not necessarily follow that everyone wants to go to Rome.

In bridge there are enough bidding maxims to pave several roads. On the one side are the old-line players who quickly bid what they think can be made, leaving the opponents as much in the dark as possible. On the other are the scientists who are so explicit in laying the groundwork for their contracts that they sometimes bar themselves from fulfillment. Both camps bolster their arguments with all the saws you would care to come by.

Somewhere in between, however, lies the sensible course. Let me illustrate:

Neither side vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[6 of Diamonds]

WEST

[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[10 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Jack of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

EAST

[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[7 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

NORTH

1 [Spade]
6 [Heart]

EAST

PASS
PASS

SOUTH

2 [Heart]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: diamond king

South won the diamond opening, drew trumps, and lost his spade finesse without being unduly concerned. East returned a club but this attack on South's vulnerable spot came too late—the spade suit was set up.

A victory for the "old school"? Yes and no. North bid the small slam without knowing whether or not it could be made, and at the same time he closed the door on the possibility of reaching a grand slam.

This hand was played in a practice team-of-four match, of which there are a lot these days, what with five American teams getting ready to travel the road, not to Rome, but to Turin, where the World Bridge Olympiad will be played late next month. At the other table this hand proved a dud for the scientific bidders when their auction went:

NORTH

1 [Spade]
4 [Club]
5 [Heart]
PASS

EAST

PASS
DOUBLE
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

2 [Heart]
4 [Diamond]
6 [Heart]

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

North's choice of the cue bid in clubs gave East the chance to double, announcing his strength in that suit. This so affected slam chances that North contented himself with bidding only five hearts. But South went on to the slam.

Even against the club lead, which, of course, West made as a result of his partner's double of that suit, South could have made the slam if the spade finesse had succeeded. But it didn't, and down he went. The total swing was 1,030 points (980 for making the slam and another 50 at the other table for defeating it) or a total of 8 International Match Points.

Actually, this was not a defeat for the scientific method per se. If the scientists wished to exchange complete information, North, instead of leaping to four clubs, could bid four no trump (Blackwood) and after hearing about South's ace, could continue with five no trump, asking for kings. South's announcement of only one king would dampen North's fire to some extent and make him satisfied with a small-slam contract—and since East never would have the chance to double clubs, the scientists would get the same favorable diamond lead that was made at the first table.

EXTRA TRICK
When you have every reason to envisage a slam contract, don't let the opponents get into the act, and, in a sense, "consult" about the opening lead.

PHOTO

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)