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Phillip Alder: There’s no need to be so active

Phillip Alder • Updated Oct 14, 2018 at 2:00 PM

James Humes, a former presidential speechwriter, said, “One secret of leadership is that the mind of a leader never turns off. Leaders, even when they are sightseers or spectators, are active, not passive observers.”

Some bridge players try to be leaders all the time, taking control even when they shouldn’t – as happened in today’s deal.

Played at Bridge Base Online, South had a borderline opening bid with such a weak suit. Even if partner responded with two diamonds (two-over-one game-forcing), South had an unappealing rebid.

Here, North responded two hearts. Then several Souths rebid two spades, which was awful. Why not two no-trump?

Over three clubs, South liked his four-card support, but the rest of his hand stank. Understandably, he continued with three no-trump. Then North pondered for a while, but finally passed.

After West led the diamond jack, South saw six top tricks: four hearts and two diamonds. He could hope for a fifth heart winner, but it looked as though he needed to play clubs for only one loser. So, after winning with his diamond queen, declarer led a club to the queen.

If East had just won that trick and passively returned a diamond, South would have had to guess clubs. However, wishing to plow his own furrow, East shifted to a spade.

West won that trick and reverted to diamonds, but now South had nine winners: one spade, five hearts, two diamonds and one club.

Playing second fiddle is often best.

Phillip Alder is a longtime New York Times bridge columnist and has taught competitive and recreational bridge to people and teams at all levels for more than 30 years.

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