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An Inferential Count

by David Burn, London, England



This was a board from the first session of the Swiss Pairs last Friday:

Session 1
Board 10
Vul All
Dealer East
S 74
H 3
C AKQ9754
D Burn
S AQ1032
D 7
C 102
[ ] H Dhondy
S KJ986
H 10762
D A1042
C None
S 5
H Q85
D J8653
C J863
WestNorth EastSouth
1S 2C 4C Dble
4NT 6C 6S All Pass

4C was a splinter, 4NT was keycard Blackwood, 6C was a bit of a nuisance because we didn’t know what our methods over intervention were, and 6S was a practical shot. North led the ace of clubs. I ruffed in dummy and played a spade to the ten, South following suit and North showing out. I ruffed another club and cashed the king of spades, on which both opponents discarded.

Feeling that I ought to give them one final chance to produce the missing two spades, I cashed dummy’s jack, but both opponents resolutely refused to have their trumps drawn. I could now claim, because even if I lost a heart trick by misguessing, it would come back on the revoke penalty. But that would be a little unsporting – better to get the hearts right anyway, so that North-South would not feel badly about having given me a needless trick. The trouble was, of course, that thanks to the parsimony of my opponents, I did not have a count on the spade suit. What would you have done in my place?

Think back to the bidding. North’s jump to six clubs was somewhat risky at game all, and I felt that if he had been looking at a couple of spade losers, he might not have been so adventurous. But if he believed that he had no spades and eight or nine clubs, his bidding would be more or less sound. I deduced, therefore, that it was North who had the missing two spades in with his club suit. Since South hadn’t opened a weak two diamonds, North probably had three of those in a 2-1-3-7 shape that looked to him like 0-1-3-9. I played a heart to the ace, a diamond to the ace, and ran the ten of hearts.

‘Oh,’ said North, on whom it had finally dawned that he was in a position to ruff this trick. ‘It doesn’t matter very much,’ I said. ‘If you discard on this trick, I’ll draw trumps and the rest of my hand will be high. But if you ruff, I’ll get two extra tricks for the revoke, and you’ll be the first player in history to let through six spades plus two.’


Editor's note:

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