Better Basic Bridge: There are lots of choices in bridge world

Nancy Evins • Updated Jun 18, 2017 at 3:00 PM

In the bridge world, as has been written before, you can learn all the rules and still things don’t work out. Even using logic sometimes fails.

When I was made life master, I was interviewed, and when asked how I felt about it, I answered, ”It just goes to show that sometimes ignorance and superstition win out over science and skill.”

So here’s a hand that logical thinking kept a Swiss team from winning a round.


The key cards are shown. The Xs represent the smaller cards and show only the distribution. Many times, eights, sevens, etc. are important, but not in this hand.

North and South are at one table. Their partners, East and West, are at the other. 

The bidding goes as follows: South passes, as does West. North opens one club and East overcalls one heart, giving South the opportunity to show five spades instead of four by bidding one spade. A negative double would have shown only four.

West now bids two diamonds and North raises South to two spades with East now supporting West by bidding three diamonds. South jumps to four spades since his eleven points become thirteen with the singleton.

Here is where the problem begins. West, on lead, leads the six of clubs. South sees that he must lose two diamonds, the ace of hearts, and the king of clubs and is afraid that the six might be a singleton so he goes up with the ace. Actually it probably would have been better had he taken the finesse because, though it wouldn’t win, it seemed to be the only choice.

From there, after drawing trump, South leads his singleton heart, hoping the ace is on the left and West will not go up with it if he has it. West probably would but doesn’t have the opportunity and East takes the ace and leads back the diamonds, and so it goes, as South suspected, four losses for a minus 50.

When the round is over and scores are compared, North and South are astonished to find that though the bidding went about the same, the other North/South team made the contract for a 420, making that hand cost them a minus 470 points.

West, now defending the four-spade bid, leads the jack of hearts. South plays the king and East takes the ace. East can now count the number of hearts out and surmises that West has led the singleton, so returns the heart, hoping for a ruff. 

South wins the heart in dummy, draws trump, leaving the jack of spades in dummy so as to return to dummy to discard the two losing diamonds on the queen and 10 of hearts. Contract made.

Neither West nor East was illogical. West wanted East in lead so as to lead back a diamond if king was in South’s hand. East, as explained before, thought the lead was a singleton and they would get a trump trick.

As someone said, ”If you have the slightest touch of masochism, you’ll love this game.”

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

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