Al The Plumber

New York Times 2012/02/09: Throw winners, keep losers!

RE: New York Times Article ‘A Count Provides the Signal to Discard Two High Hearts

To: Phillip, Adam, and a big group of Bcc victims!


As I told Adam on Facebook, that’s the way I play.  Throw winners, keep losers!
BUT — I can never leave well enough alone.  SO — was South nuts?  Why wasn’t he also trying to get rid of at winners, or at least one of them anyway, just as Adam was doing during that hand from the Bermuda Regional?  Naturally, that’s the first thing that should come to mind for any bridge player!  Based on the first two tricks, West had  KQJT, and it was “certain” the heart suit was blocked.  (Well, unless something even weirder than Adam’s driving was going on, but that’s another story.  Anyway, according to Heisenberg’s Certainty Principle, such over-weirdness is not possible in any space-time continuum.  It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Bermuda Triangle or not.)
Therefore, after South went out of his way to get to dummy, play the  Q, and East covered with the K, declarer should have gotten rid of a low club winner! The whole point of playing bridge is to be written up in bridge articles.  Only if the clubs were 4-0, would that maybe not happen for this hand.  However, since W had overcalled a four card heart suit, it was extremely unlikely that he had a club void.  Even if he did, there was a good chance that a squeeze or endplay could develop another trick.
But did South duck the  K?  Incredibly, NO!  : )  So he didn’t know what to do when the  A unfortunately dropped out of his hand.  Of course, I’d never suggest that declarer was just a pig, and he intentionally played the A.  As stated in the column, he still should have made 3NT on the actual layout .
But who cares about all of that?  South just should have claimed by stating that he would lead a low club to the Q at Trick 3.  If they are not 4-0, EW will only get one club & three heart tricks, so South has 9 tricks.  (If the Q wins, and East follows low to the next round, South can finesse the J to protect against East really being that nasty guy named Grosvenor!)  If East has 4 clubs, South gets enough club tricks to make 3NT by finessing as necessary.
If West has 4 clubs, he must let the Q win to have any chance of beating 3N.  Then South, our hero, fiddles while West burns.  Just play some high spades.  Depending what five card distribution he shows up with in spades and diamonds, also play some diamonds if necessary to eventually squeeze him out of various tricks and exit cards.  In some cases, a diamond trick may have to be lost early to retain control of the situation, put maximum pressure on West, etc.  Anyway, it is generally OK to let him dump one hi heart, but he can’t be allowed to get rid of both of them, and then permit East to get in.  Technically, that is known as “Down One” (or worse).  Once his distribution is known, regardless what West does, evidently South later can establish clubs or endplay him into giving South a third club trick club.  Therefore, declarer will get at least 3 spades, 1 heart, 2 diamonds, and 3 clubs.
In real life if West has 4 clubs, it is one of those situations when it is not practical to claim.  It would take too long to explain & is prone to screw-ups or misunderstandings.  In addition, waterboarding may be illegal, but duplicateboarding isn’t.  Let the opponents burn out their brains trying to figure out how to beat the contract.  That’s the key to winning bridge.  Well — that’s aside from trying to get rid of winners.
Bridge is such an easy game!
Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy!
P.S. Since the dreaded “Al the Plumber” blogs on and have not been used to MUDdy the bridge waters for quite a while, I’ll post the letter on there for anyone who wants to make public comments.  I’ll also put it on Facebook. 

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