NEBridge - Feldheim: More Optipism

 More Optipism

by Harold Feldheim

Originally printed in the U126 Kibitzer

When confronted by a near hopeless-looking contract, the enterprising declarer will take an optimistic view, hoping for a near-miracle lie of the cards. On the other side of the coin, when confronted by a cast-iron looking contract, our same declarer will look for hidden dangers that may sink the contract; hence, optipism; a word I coined in ‘Winning Swiss Team Tactics’.  This idea of early planning often reaps surprising dividends.

Consider the following hand:

North
K Q J 9
K 9 5
A J 8 4
A 5
           South
——
A Q J 8 2
K Q 6 5 2
K 5 4
 
South West North East
1 P 1 P
3 P 4 P
4 P 5 P
5 P 5NT P
7 P P P
       

Opening lead: 3

The auction is both businesslike and accurate. I particularly like the jump-shift by South. Despite holding only 15 hcps with a spade void, this 4 loser hand should be advertised. After fixing the trump suit, cuebids followed by the grand slam try propelled South to 7.

South surveyed his prospects with confidence. With five diamonds, five hearts, and the ace-king of clubs in hand, the task seems no more difficult than ruffing a club in dummy for the 13th trick. At this point, optipism should kick in. What can go wrong?

There are two possible dangers. First, what if West started life with 4 diamonds and a singleton club? The second is a 5-0 heart split. This last can be handled later via normal technique. The first possibility is a bit more difficult but solvable by a dummy reversal. Believe or not, the key play is the 4 from the dummy! If East follows at trick one, pull trump and ruff a club for the fulfilling trick. If East shows out, carefully play the deuce from hand. Then ruff a spade with the K and lead a small diamond to dummy, winning as cheaply as possible. Trump another spade with the Q and pull trump. Now thirteen tricks are there; six diamonds, five hearts and the ace-king of clubs. This ability to anticipate trouble and convert a very good contract to an absolute certainty is a hallmark of the true expert.  The complete hands:

 
 North
K Q J 9
K 9 5
A J 8 4
A 5
 
West
A 8 7 6
10 7 4 6
9 6 5 3
8
 East
10 5 4 3 2
6
——
Q J 10 9 7 6 2
 South
——
A Q J 8 2
K Q 6 5 2
K 5 4
 
 
SouthWestNorthEast
1P1P
3P4P
4P5P
5P5NTP
7PPP

One fascinating point; as the cards lie, if you don’t play to trick one as indicated, the hand becomes awkward and painful. Bridge should never be thus.