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Full Disclosure in Bridge Scoring

  by Alan Truscott

October 10, 1993 — New York Times

Should the consumer be told what goes into a sausage? Would he wish to be told? In a bridge context, the European answer is no, and the American answer is yes.

Eight years ago, the Europeans, headed by Jose Damiani of France, pioneered the Epson Worldwide Game. Preselected deals with predetermined matchpoints are played around the world, but the organizers have never explained how the deals are derived or the scores assigned.

The American organizers of the similar Royal Viking Instant Matchpoint Game, in contrast, believe in freedom of information. They explain that their deals are taken from a British tournament, and that the analyst, Richard Pavlicek, makes occasional scoring adjustments if he feels “the results were biased by non-American systems or inferior bidding or play.”

The purpose, difficult to achieve, is to make the players feel, when they examine the predetermined scores, that justice has been done to their efforts.

Pavlicek is a brilliant analyst, as well as a player with many national victories. On the diagrammed deal from the Royal Viking Game of Sept. 23, he offered a very clever thought.

3 NT SouthS A 8 5
H J 10 9 7 5
D 10 8 2
C 8 3
None VulWEST
3 D
3 NT
2 NT
3 H
S J 10
H 4 3
D J 9 6 4
C A J 9 7 4
Table S 9 7 4 3
H K 8 6 2
D K 7 3
C Q 10

Lead: C 7
S K Q 6 2
D A Q 5
C K 6 5 2

Many South players struggled unsuccessfully in three notrump, usually after the transfer auction shown.

After a club lead to the queen and king, suppose South returns the suit. West, lacking second sight, plays the nine rather than the jack, and East wins. A spade is returned to the king, and South leads the heart ace and queen, winning both tricks and reaching this ending:

NotrumpS A 8
H J 10 9
D 10 8 2
win 5/8
D J 9 6 4
C A J 4
Table S 9 7 4
H K 8
D K 7 3

South leads
S Q 6 2
D A Q 5
C 6 5

Can declarer succeed against best defense? Think about it — he needs five of the last eight tricks.

If declarer crosses to the spade ace and takes a diamond finesse, East can eventually dispose of his king effectively to avert an endplay.

The winning play from the diagrammed position, as Pavlicek points out, is to cash the diamond ace — a most unusual move. With any defense, the game is now unbeatable.

If East plays low, declarer crosses to the spade ace and leads a diamond. Whether or not East takes his king, he cannot avoid being endplayed. Eventually, East will be forced to give dummy a heart, which is declarer’s ninth trick.

Now suppose that East attempts to avoid this fate by dropping his diamond king under the ace. Declarer then turns his attention to West. He cashes the ace and queen of spades, and leads a club from his hand. West takes three club tricks but must lead from the diamond jack at the finish.

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© 1993 Alan Truscott