Unless you’re an expert, it often pays to keep quiet at the bridge table — something I really ought to remember. It shames me to think of all the times I’ve made a mistake and then tried to justify it, invariably using flawed reasoning which makes me look even more idiotic. That’s bad enough; but far worse are the times I’ve criticised my partner only to realise that I’m talking rubbish yet again: I’ve shown myself to be not just bossy, but bossy and wrong — not a great combination. At least I’m not the only one; we bridge players are quick to blame, and I’ve been at the receiving end plenty of times.
I played at the YC with Peter Taylor last Friday. He showed me this deal from the previous week; his partner had lectured him about his poor lead, but Peter is a superb analyst and was able to give as good as he got:
Peter (North) made an aggressive lead: a small club away from his king. Declarer played the ♣8 from dummy. South played the ♣J (unless he thinks his partner has led from KQx, he should really play low), and now declarer was able to finesse the ♣K: he ended up losing just a spade and a trump. Afterwards, the criticisms began: why didn’t Peter lead a spade? Peter pointed out that if South wins with the ♠A, declarer has discards for dummy’s clubs; if South plays low, declarer wins, ruffs two spades, and can play the clubs for one loser. Then you should have led a heart, said his partner. No: declarer wins in dummy and leads a spade, giving South the same losing options. Well, a trump lead would have broken his communications. Yes, a trump was probably best, agreed Peter — but if declarer ducks South’s ♦Q, South has no good return — so no lead whatsoever beats the contract!