Archive for December 30, 2015

Bridge Puzzlement

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 30, 2015 by telescoper


I don’t often have time to peruse the Bridge columns but this one by Maureen Hiron in today’s Independent caught my eye.

South ended up as declarer in 3 No Trumps, against which the standard lead by West would be the 8♥ (4th highest of longest suit). This turns out very badly for the defence, however, as it makes South’s Queen into a winner. Keeping the A♥ in place to prevent a heart attack (!), South can then easily win 12 tricks, losing only one (to the K♦).

In the game discussed in the column. West (Zia Manhood, actually) correctly surmised that South’s No Trump bid indicated that he had a defence against hearts and tried an unorthodox lead of a low club. South played the Ace from dummy to win then crossed back to his hand by playing a spade from dummy to the A♠.

So far so good, two tricks down. Seven to go…

However South now tried a diamond finesse (perhaps confused by West’s earlier bid of 2♦ which did not indicate a diamond holding but a weak hand with a long major suit, ie hearts). Anyway the finesse fails because East has the King. South then has to look on as the defence win four club tricks;.the contract fails by one.

There’s no doubt that the club lead is better than hearts here but what puzzled  me at first is why South went for the diamond finesse straight away, as it seemed very risky to me.

Looking at South’s hand and dummy only it is clear that there are 5 spade tricks to be taken unless the remainder split 5-0; South’s cross to hand at trick 2 shows this is not the case. Taking the opening trick plus five spade tricks leaves South only needing three more tricks to make the contract. There are however only two obvious winners remaining: A♦ in dummy and A♥ in hand.  South needs either the diamond finesse mentioned above or to somehow turn Q♥ into a winner. The finesse doesn’t work in that case either and West is highly unlikely to lead a heart into South’s tenace given that he didn’t lead one at the start!

It seems to me that East and West have four club tricks and one Diamond trick in the bag so South must go one off after that lead, unless of course East had been foolish enough to discard a club on one or more of South’s spade winners….

..  and only an idiot like me would do that!

PS. Standard advice would be for South to duck the first club trick, but it doesn’t help in this case.

Moeen, Man of the Match

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on December 30, 2015 by telescoper

He may not have won this year’s Beard of the Year award but Moeen Ali did his best to compensate this morning by taking three quick wickets as England bowled out South Africa to win the First Test in Durban by the impressive margin of 241 runs.


With overall figures of 7 for 116 including the key wicket of AB De Villiers early on this morning, he thoroughly deserved his Man Of The Match award. Beard power strikes again!

South Africa had been set a total of  416 with a day and a half to play (140 overs). Some were arguing that Cook should have declared but I think he was right in batting on. I said so on Twitter and my comment made it onto the bbc Web feed


I felt an earlier declaration would have been reckless and unnecessary: There was plenty of time to bowl out South Africa on a turning wicket so why give them even a sniff of victory?

As it turned out there was no declaration anyway: England were all out for 326 in their second innings. South Africa batted well to start with, scoring steadily at five an over, but lost key wickets to close on 136-4 last night. Had they been able to bat all the last  day they would not only have saved the game but have had a chance if winning it, but once De Villiers was out, in Moeen’s first over, South Africa were doomed.

Well played Moeen and the rest of the England team!