Nancy Evins: Mission impossible carries over to bridge

Nancy Evins • Updated May 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM

My father used to watch Mission Impossible but wasn’t as impressed with their combined skills to complete their assignment (if they wished to accept it) as he was in their ability to remember the complicated instructions without writing them down and then find a parking place where they were to go.

What really impresses me about movies and television is the ability of the driver of a car to be able to turn and look at his passenger for several minutes without running into someone else or off the road. 

I remember glancing behind me to see if I could get into the left lane only to find, yes, I could, but everyone there had stopped. It was a reminder of the domino effect.

More amazing to me is the ability of detectives who come into a suspect’s house, notice a picture that will solve the crime but even more go through the suspect’s drawers and immediately find the very thing that will close the case.

I wish they would come here and find my keys for me…plus a few other things that are even more important.

What impresses me in the bridge world are the higher ups who can count down the cards so closely as well as the points and make a seemingly unmakeable contract.

But here is a hand (at right) that every inquiring bridge mind, if they stop long enough, should be able to figure out.



North is opener and opens one club. Now if you were East would you overcall one heart?

I certainly would though some might not. Overcalls are usually eight to 15 points, and this is a good lead suggestion.

However, this has helped South a bit. Had not there been an overcall of one heart, South would have bid one spade and North would not know if he had more than four.

Now with the overcall, if South bids one spade, that means he has at least five since he would make a negative double to indicate four. Lots of information in that bid.

West passes and North, knowing they have an eight card spade fit, bids two spades, showing a minimum hand, East passes and here is what many Souths I have seen do…they bid three spades. No. South has an opining hand, knows his partner holds 12-14 points and must get them to game so he bids four spades.

If you were West you would surely lead your nine of hearts, ready to show a doubleton. East takes the trick with the Ace and now South can see all the remaining top hearts.

East then leads back his highest heart to tell West to lead a diamond if he gets into the lead.

This gives South another clue. Know what? He now knows that East does not have the King of diamonds. Why? If he had, he would have led it instead of the heart to tell West to lead a diamond most definitely. Then he would proceed with the heart return. 

Now South knows most of the cards He leads the J of spades and it holds. He leads trump letting West hold the queen until it is the only trump remaining. No way to finesses it.

Then he runs clubs, which nicely break 3/3,leaving him with the fourth to discard a diamond.

Now suppose that East did not make the one heart overcall. South would bid one spade and North not knowing there were five in South’s hand, would bid one no trump.

This gives South pause. He must get them to game. Should he bid three no-trump or let North know about the fifth spade. If he wants North to know about the other card, he cannot bid spades again because it would indicate six and he surely cannot go to game in spades himself though North must have at least two spades to bid the no trump.

So here is a handy little convention called “ new minor force.” He can bid two diamonds, which tells North he has five spades and North must bid again since this is an artificial bid.

Someone on the East/West side might ask what that bid means (you can always ask the partner of the bidder when it becomes your turn to bid).

North can simply say “new minor force” and if asked again, can say that and add, “he might or might not have diamonds.”

It turns out that four spades is the better contract since many were at three no trump, some not making and some making one overtrick.

However, if East returns the ace of diamonds after taking the ace of hearts, West would throw the eight on it, saying, “I like this. Continue” and that would set the contract as East/West take the ace of hearts, the ace and king of diamonds and one trump. But most good players do not lead out aces without the king.

Sometimes diamonds (or clubs) are really a bridge player’s best friends.

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]

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