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Keep your troubles to yourself
Charles Goren
September 24, 1962
I have recently been told that it is not true that the ostrich considers himself invisible when he buries his head in the sand. But I still prefer the old notion, inaccurate or not. There is something very persuasive in the natural conclusion that what you cannot see cannot be seen.
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September 24, 1962

Keep Your Troubles To Yourself

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I have recently been told that it is not true that the ostrich considers himself invisible when he buries his head in the sand. But I still prefer the old notion, inaccurate or not. There is something very persuasive in the natural conclusion that what you cannot see cannot be seen.

It is interesting, then, that many bridge players follow a form of reverse-ostrich philosophy, based on the fear that the cards they themselves can see in their own hand must be equally well known to the opponents. Of course, if you are reasonably prudent in the way you hold your cards, this isn't true, thereby giving you the one great advantage you have over any opponent.

The reverse-ostrich philosophy does not totally alibi the expert who botched up the following hand, but it does explain how he overlooked his best chance for success.

It is not my style to mention so shabby a suit as South's hearts, even on the second round of bidding. But as it turned out, North-South's best chance to make four hearts lay in having South's hand concealed, rather than exposed as dummy. Yet South played his cards wide open—in more ways than one.

East won the diamond ace and shifted to a club. South won and took a trump finesse, losing his 9 to the king. Back came a trump to put the lead in dummy. Declarer led dummy's spade to his jack and was fortunate enough to have this drive out the ace, but this bit of good luck was of little actual value. A third round of trumps was won in declarer's hand (he had unblocked by winning the second trump lead with dummy's queen). South cashed the king of spades and hopefully trumped a third spade lead. But the queen failed to fall and declarer wound up with another inescapable spade loser to go down a trick.

Let's move to another table and watch an abler declarer handle the same contract. Having held his cards close to his vest, on winning the second trick with the club ace he led the spade jack! Put yourself in West's place. For all he knew, declarer had started with king-queen-jack of spades and was trying to sneak a trick past the ace. If he succeeded, he'd later be able to trump the ace. So West climbed up with the ace of spades and shifted to a trump. The finesse lost to East's king and a trump came back. South won in his hand, cashed the spade king, trumped a spade, got back to his hand with another high club and ruffed a fourth round of spades, felling the queen. A diamond ruff put South back into his hand to draw the last trump and win the balance.

Turn the cards around so that West holds the spade queen and East the ace, and you'll note that the jack of spades lead hasn't really cost a thing. A good East player would duck and South would finesse the jack anyway. Now, having lost to the queen before touching trumps, when the trump return is made he can still make his contract if he eschews the heart finesse and plays the hand for a careful crossruff.

EXTRA TRICK
It never does any harm to give the opponents a chance to make a mistake. Remember, they can't see your cards, so they can't always see your troubles.

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