Henry Brylawski (spadejac) is still going strong even though he is 95 years old. He often plays as many as 60 hands a week on OKbridge. He likes to bid, but he passed throughout on this recent deal, even though he had a solid eight-card suit. His silence paid off – he gained 5 IMPs on the deal.
Henry was silent during the first two rounds of bidding because he hoped his opponents would wind up in notrump – if they did they were in for a rude awakening. I don’t know about you, but I never could have kept quiet with a suit like that – but Henry did. When three spades came around to him, he considered bidding four clubs, but then decided against it. He was quite sure he would get a minus in four clubs, and he felt that the opponents (1) might be cold for game, or (2) might fail in three spades.
East led his singleton club to Henry’s ace, and Henry continued with the king. Declarer ruffed in dummy and was more than a little surprised to see East overruff. East returned a diamond to declarer’s ace, and declarer led the spade jack for a losing finesse. East shot back another diamond, and Henry ruffed for the fourth defensive trick. When he led still another club, declarer was fixed. If he ruffed, East would overruff with the 10. So declarer had to ruff with the queen, and that set up East’s trump 10 for the setting trick.
Yes, declarer could have made three spades, and probably he should have. The spade finesse was almost certain to lose. Declarer already knew West had eight solid clubs, and if he had the spade king as well, there was no question about it – he would have bid. So declarer should have cashed the spade ace and led another after winning the diamond return at trick three. East would score two more trump tricks, but that would still leave declarer with nine tricks.
More to the point, look at the heart situation. North-South are cold for four hearts. Yes, Henry took an unusual position on this deal, but maybe you get intuitive when you’re 95.