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   Nov.  17/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

A SURPLUS OF TRICKS

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 Once, the notion of offering "false preference" would have sent shivers down the spines of authorities on classic bidding methods. The idea, introduced nearly forty years ago, steadily gained adherents and is today a standard technique of sound bidding. The idea is that when faced with an awkward situation, a bidder's safest action may be to take a preference for a suit he doesn't prefer in order to preserve bidding space.

East-West vulnerable South deals

  Q 9
9 5 2
K 10 3

K 8 6 5 3

3
A K 10 4
8 7 6 5

Q J 9 2

8 7 5 4 2
Q J 7 3
9 2

10 7

  A K J 10 6
8 6
A Q J 4

A 4

West North East South
      1
Pass 1NT Pass 3
Pass 3 Pass 4
End      



Opening Lead:
K

 Consider North's rebid problem after South's game-forcing jump shift to 3
. Nothing really fits. With neither a stopper nor length in hearts 3NT is too dangerous, while a natural bid in clubs would require a better and longer suit. North has more diamonds than spades but a secondary suit should not be raised without four-card support. This is a typical scenario in which false preference - here 3 - is the most practical solution. It is a least-of-evils action that allows South to finish describing his hand. North can pass 3NT or raise 4 to five, and if South raises himself to 4, the doubleton queen should not be disappointing support.

 It would appear that South has eleven top tricks and on normal breaks this would be true. Declarer, delighted with his good contract, ruffed the third round of hearts and played two rounds of trumps. West's diamond discard was a shock, as East now had more trumps than South. Declarer was still hopeful because East might be out of hearts; he took his high trumps and started diamonds but East ruffed in and had a heart to cash for the setting trick.

 South was misled by his surplus (eleventh) trick. If he had thought more about making ten tricks, he would have made his game. If declarer discards one of his plentiful side-suit winners on the third round of hearts, he can cope with the bad trump break. If a fourth round of hearts is led he ruffs in dummy and can untangle five high trumps to eliminate East's. On any other return, declarer wins and draws trumps. In effect, "throwing away" one winner guards against a five-one trump break.