Bridge - The Scotsman 14/05/13

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THERE is a fundamental difference between Pairs and Teams: in teams play you always try to defeat a contract, accepting you may concede unnecessary overtricks; at pairs an overtrick may make the difference between a top and bottom score, so you aim to make as many tricks as you can, not necessarily to defeat the contract.

Almost everybody reached 4S on this board (from the National Pairs Final), and West led the king of hearts. Partner signalled an odd number, clearly three if he had shown heart support. The contract can now be defeated by a switch to the king of clubs; when that scores, West continues with a club to partner’s ace; a third club now allows West to ruff with the ten of spades in front of dummy. None of the players in the National Pairs found this defence, perhaps fearing that if declarer held the ace of clubs they might concede an overtrick. Looking at dummy’s diamonds, and knowing that declarer has a singleton heart, it does seem that the club is the best chance of taking any tricks in defence.

In some auctions, where East had not shown heart support, West continued with a second heart, hoping that partner might overruff dummy. Declarer ruffed, drew trump in two rounds, cashed the queen of diamonds and crossed to the nine of spades to play diamonds from the top. When the jack dropped doubleton he could discard all his clubs and make 12 tricks for a top score.