Deal Us In: Most interesting Morton's Fork


Either the contributor of this hand is nuts or one of the best bridge players and bidders that I have encountered. To jump into the bidding with a bid of six diamonds against an experienced pair seems like a bad choice.

North dredged up a takeout double of East’s one-spade opening, and East (our contributor, who wishes to remain anonymous) took the advantage of vulnerability to pre-empt to an uncomfortable level. In his usual manner, he leapt to six diamonds. West’s double was to tell the world that no one bids a slam after he bids and gets away unscathed.

West led the queen of spades, and when the dummy came down, the contributor did not like his chances.
With the king of clubs marked in the West hand, it seemed like he had to lose a heart and a club. But the contributor had a reputation for using his forces to the best advantage, and he made no mistake.

The contributor won the ace of spades and, then, a low heart from his hand toward the queen in the dummy.
If West rose with the ace, he would still be able to get rid of two clubs, one on the king of spades and the other on the queen of hearts. West ducked, dummy’s queen won, and the contributor sluffed his king of hearts on the king of spades. This play is known in the bridge world as a “Morton’s Fork Coup.”

But that was only part of the problem. The contributor had to worry about two possible club losers. After ruffing a high heart, he led a trump to the nine and ruffed another high heart. He then crossed back to the dummy with the king of trump and led the nine of spades. When East did not, or could not, cover, he did not ruff but discarded a losing club.

West won the 10 of clubs, but he was faced with losing choices. A club return would run to the contributor’s queen, and a major suit would permit him to ruff in the dummy while pitching his last club loser from his hand. Either way, the contributor won the battle.

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.”

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