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For Lefties Only
By: Fred Gitelman

Originally Published in Canadian Master Point, March, 1993

My left hand opponent was left-handed. I should have known she would defend properly. Edgar Kaplan once suggested in The Bridge World that left-handed people are better at abstract problem-solving than mere right-handed mortals. Edgar suggested that lefties thus make better bridge players. Ever since I read that, I always look at what hand my opponents hold their cards in (lefties hold their cards in their right hands).

This was my problem (everyone vulnerable, IMP scoring):


I have been told that right-handed people like Sheri Winestock and myself are superior to lefties in such things as writing poetry. Perhaps that will explain the beauty of our auction. My first 3 bids showed extra values and shortness in spades. Sheri, with more than half of her hand in spades bid 3NT. I then completed painting a perfect picture of my hand by bidding 4. Poetry. Well, the practical value of a bridge player having poetic skills is questionable. We had managed to reach an awful contract (I suppose a part score in clubs is best).

My left-handed opponent led the J, overtaken by the righty on my right with the Q and won by me. I could think of no reason not to draw trump. I played 3 rounds, discarding 2 spades from the dummy. Both defenders followed and righty won this trick. Righty continued the 10 which I won as Lefty discarded a spade.

Here is what was left:


I had lost 1 trick. It looked at first glance that there was a certain diamond loser and that the clubs would have to be played for 1 loser. Lefty's diamond shortness made her a favourite to have club length. At this point my analysis stopped. I made the very foolish play of leading the J. I was hoping either to pin a singleton 10 on my right or to induce lefty to erroneously cover with K10xx or Q10xx. Well, lefty held Q10xx. She did not cover, I ducked in dummy and quickly went down. Righty won his singleton K, cashed a diamond trick, and the defense had to come to the setting trick in clubs.

In retrospect, I could have used some of Lefty's abstract problem-solving skills on this deal. In the above position, there is a line of play available with good chances of success. I totally missed it at the table. Can you see the answer?

The correct line of play is to continue with the 8 or 9. Assume that West plays low for now. Win the A and take the ruffing finesse in spades planning to discard the 6. If Lefty wins the A, you are probably going down, but you were probably going down anyways. If Righty has the A, you are in good shape. Assume he covers and you ruff. Now continue your other middle club. If any of the following club layouts exist, there is no defense.

      Lefty         Righty

    1. KQ       10xx
    2. K10      Qxx
    3. Q10      Kxx
    4. Kx        Q10x
    5. Qx        K10x
    6. KQ10   xx
    7. KQx     10x
    8. 10xx     KQ
    9. KQxx   10
    10. K10xx  Q
    11. Q10xx  K

If all of these cases, Lefty, who is unable to cash a diamond winner, will have to either give you the established spade trick in dummy or create an eventual entry to dummy to cash the spade winner (you may have to be careful to unblock the J in some of these cases).

Did you work all of this out? Did you also work out that lefty should play her high card from K10, Q10, Kx, and Qx on the first round? What should you do if your left-handed left hand opponent plays the K or Q on the first round? Against a player capable of this falsecard, you should win the A and play another club, intending to play the J if RHO follows small both times. You lose to KQ doubleton on your left, but pick up both K10 and Q10 doubleton.

Did you also notice that the line I took at the table (leading the J on the first round) would have succeeded on the given lie of the cards (lefty holding Q10xx) if I had overtaken my J with the A? The A was indeed on my right. Leading the J is inferior to leading the 8 or 9 because it allows lefty holding Kx or Qx to defeat the contract by covering.

One last tidbit. If Lefty has KQ, KQx, or KQ10 in clubs, the ruffing spade finesse is an unneccessary risk - Lefty will have to take it for you and give you an eventual dummy entry in clubs. If Lefty has one of these club holdings, however, Righty must hold the A as Lefty would have overcalled with:


Well, if you think that you could have figured all of this out at the table (and anything else I may have missed) you are truly a fine player. You are also almost certainly left-handed.

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