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  Nov. 03/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

THE RIGHT ODDS

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 Bidding is not an exact science and it is usually impossible for even the best bidders to know, during the auction, the exact chance of success that a contract will have. Still, it is wise to have a general idea of when to bid conservatively and when to bid aggressively.

 Consider slam bidding. The "break-even" point for small slams is roughly 50 percent. Over the long run you will neither gain nor lose points by attempting six-level contracts that will make half the time - for example, that depend on a successful finesse. In contrast, most grand slam attempts are worthwhile only if the odds are at least 2-1 in your favour (mainly because you lose not only the game bonus but also the small slam bonus).

 Try to find a line of play that will justify South's bash at 7
. West leads the 10.

South deals Both vulnerable

  A Q 6 2
K 7 2
K J 9

A 5 4

   
  9
A 5 4
A Q 10 8 4

K Q J 6

 

West North East South
      1
Pass 3NT Pass 4
Pass 4 Pass 4(1)
Pass 4(1) Pass 7
fin      


(1) Cue-bid agreeing diamonds


Opening Lead:
10

 A straightforward line of play for declarer would be to take the spade finesse to discard his heart loser, but this is only a 50 percent proposition, unacceptable odds for a grand slam. Ruffing two spades in the hope of dropping the king is inferior to the finesse, while trying to ruff the heart loser in dummy (by drawing only two rounds of trumps and throwing a heart on the fourth round of clubs) requires a very favourable lie of the cards. Can you see anything better than the spade finesse?

 Our declarer did. He won the opening lead with the
K, crossed to the 9, cashed the A, ruffed a spade, crossed to dummy's J, and ruffed another spade. Then he crossed his fingers, led a second club to the ace, and ruffed the last spade with the A. He went to the K, cashed the K to draw the last trump (discarding a heart from hand), and claimed. His hand was high, with the A and good clubs remaining. On this line declarer's success depended essentially on a three-two trump break (with no adverse ruff), roughly a 2-1 favourite - the right odds. Declarer's play indeed justified his bidding.

 The four hands were:

  A Q 6 2
K 7 2
K J 9

A 5 4

10 7 5
J 9 6 2
7 5 3

10 9 8

K J 8 4 3
Q 10 3
6 2

7 3 2

  9
A 5 4
A Q 10 8 4

K Q J 6