“My partner went set in this contract,” writes Bunny Roland, who spends the winter months in Tampa, “and I asked him why he chose this line of play. He said that he went with the table of probability.”
Roland’s partner took East’s king of hearts with his ace and debated whether to start clubs or spades. If he found the queen of spades with West, he could take three spades and two tricks in each of the other suits, a 50-50 chance. If he started clubs, he would need to drop the queen doubleton; otherwise, the defenders would win the race for tricks. Dropping a doubleton queen is slightly better than a one-in-three chance.
He chose spades, and it went to set quickly. East won the queen of spades and cleared hearts, and Roland’s partner never got to use the long clubs, even though the queen did drop doubleton. He should have played clubs before spades to try both chances. Had the queen of clubs not dropped under the ace, king, he would have had time to try the spades, scoring the game if either queen behaved.
When West’s queen of clubs drops on the second lead, dummy’s Jack of clubs wins the third round of that suit, and Roland’s partner has a sure entry back to his hand to run clubs. He collects nine tricks without ever having to try spades.
Donna Swan is a resident of Longboat Key, an ardent bridge player and an American Contract Bridge League certified director who plays “for the fun of it.”