Janet de Botton

Bridge | 20 April 2024

‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.’ For Bridge players, the problem is that it doesn’t always look like a duck and it rarely quacks. My regular partner, Artur Mali, says ducking is for experts, and goes puce in the face if I duck and it’s wrong – which it almost always is. I was reminded of this when watching a match in the popular ALT online teams tournament: 

What should South do at his second turn? I would prefer a double – seems most flexible – and if North pulls to 5♦ it may sometimes be the right place to play. East may also have had something to add to the auction, but if N/S have uncovered a big Club-fit, his hand may not be worth that much. So 5♣ it was and West led his singleton Diamond covered by the Jack, Queen and Ace.

South scooped up the trick and – since he was undoubled – went all out for his contract. He cashed A, K of Clubs and the Queen dropping must have been a sight for sore eyes. He played his remaining Diamond and overtook in dummy. East could take the King, but after ruffing the second Spade, Declarer could draw trump to the Jack in dummy and discard all his losing Hearts on the good Diamonds for a lovely +400.

Should East Have found the non-quacking duck at trick one? I’ll leave that for you to work out, but I find it very hard to see a layout when selling that first trick would have given away the contract.  

Spectator playing cards are available to order now at the Spectator Shop at spectator.co.uk/deck.