Abridge expert is a curious sort of chap—and you may take that in either sense of the word. To illustrate, after two grueling sessions of mental exertion at any bridge tournament, it is not at all uncommon to find this curious chap seeking relaxation by participating in a general-information quiz game, an activity which may last into the wee hours of the morning.

This is even more of a busman's holiday than most persons realize, since throughout these sessions of bridge he has been exercising his curiosity in a continuous self-quiz: "What is my partner trying to tell me?" or "Why didn't declarer lead trumps when he had a chance to?" or "Where can we find the tricks to set this contract?"

Even with an apparently hopeless hand, you can't let your curiosity flag; if you do, there is grave danger that you may overlook a chance to turn an apparently worthless card into a priceless asset. It would have been easy for East to go to sleep on this deal:

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

[5 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
3 [Spade]
PASS

WEST

2 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 N.T.
4 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: diamond king

Three no trump appears to be a superior contract, though unless declarer guesses the queen of spades even this contract could be broken with the ideal defense—a diamond opening and a heart return from West.

South elected to rebid his six-card suit, and North, feeling too insecure in clubs to persist in no trump, raised the spades to game.

In spite of East's encouraging signal with the 8 of diamonds on the opening lead of the king, West shifted to the 2 of hearts. Dummy's jack was covered by East's queen and won by declarer's ace. South led a diamond, won by West's ace. East completed his echo when he followed with the diamond 6, but West continued with the 6 of hearts, won by dummy's king.

Declarer led dummy's queen of diamonds. Of course he knew that East could ruff, but he hoped that this would resolve the trump situation. If he could avoid a trump loser, he'd give up only two diamonds and one club trick, and his game contract would be assured.

It looked like the psychological time for East to make use of his otherwise worthless trump. Had he done so, South would overruff, cash the king of spades and, when East showed out, West's queen would be as completely revealed as an ecdysiast after a dozen encores.

But East asked himself some questions: "Why didn't partner give me a diamond ruff?" The obvious answer was that South held only two diamonds and would overruff. "Can declarer have a losing heart?" The answer must be "No," for West's lead of a low one followed by a higher one indicated he held at least three.

Next came the payoff question. "Knowing that I have only two diamonds, why didn't South draw trumps before playing the good diamond queen?" Evidently, South didn't need a discard and was fishing for information about the trump suit. Having answered his own questions, East held on to that "worthless" trump. He discarded a club and so did South.

Of course East's refusal to ruff seemed to declarer like an effort to protect a trump holding. So he cashed dummy's spade ace. But when he led the next spade, East proved to be out of spades and declarer out of luck. East had indeed protected a trump holding—his partner's. West's queen of spades and ace of clubs set the contract.

EXTRA TRICK
Even when you hold a seemingly hopeless hand, playing the question-and-answer game may help you to turn one of your apparently worthless cards into the straw that breaks the enemy's back.

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)