Bridge: Jan. 14, 2018

Tribune Content Agency

I can appreciate capable, dedicated teachers. (Both of my parents were educators.) My daughter has been blessed with excellent ones.

A good teacher can eat lunch in two and a half minutes (master teachers can do it quicker), predict which parents will show up for open house, and sense the presence of gum. A good teacher knows that the best end-of-term lesson plans are found at some video-on-demand place.

And a good teacher has never heard an original excuse.

Bridge players are apt to make excuses when something goes awry. At today’s five diamonds, South took the king of hearts and led a trump from dummy. East discarded, and West took South’s king and shifted to the jack of spades.

Declarer was in trouble. He took the ace, cashed the A-K of clubs and tried to reach his hand by ruffing a third club. West overruffed and led the ten of spades, and South went down two.

“You should make it,” North pointed out. “Win the first heart with the ace, overtaking dummy’s king, and let the ten of trumps ride.”

“Trumps would break 2-1 almost 80 percent of the time,” South excused himself.

South had no valid excuse. His contract is at risk only if West wins an early trump trick and leads a spade through dummy. If South correctly adopts an “avoidance play,” he will be safe even if his ten of diamonds loses to a singleton jack since East can’t lead a spade effectively. South can ruff a heart return in dummy and start the clubs; he can discard his low spades, losing only two trump tricks.

South dealer

Neither side vulnerable

NORTH

S A Q 2

H K

D Q 7 6 2

C A K Q J 10

WEST

S J 10 8

H Q J 10 8 6

D A J 3

C 5 3

EAST

S K 9 7 6

H 7 5 4 3 2

D None

C 9 8 7 6

SOUTH

S 5 4 3

H A 9

D K 10 9 8 5 4

C 4 2

South West North East

2 D Pass 3 C Pass

3 D Pass 5 D All Pass

Opening lead — H Q

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BC-stewart-bridge 01/14 TCA

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