Sunday, 14 February 2010

THE POWER OF SUPERSTITION............ ( Article by Bridgemeister Gibson )
Barry Crane was reported to have several superstitious rules to which his partners were obliged to abide...or else. One of these was that if you had a two-way guess for a queen, you did not have to think about it. It was all too obvious and straightforward. The queen was over the jack in minors, and under the jack in the majors. So if you held Axxx and dummy had KJ109, you would lay down the Ace and lead to the jack, if the suit was a major. If the suit was a minor, you played low to the king, and finesse the queen coming back to hand. How easy is that ?
Then in a national competition, Grant Baze was playing with Barry Crane, and after ending up in 7 NT, Baze needed to pick up the missing queen of clubs to make all 13 tricks. With a two-way guess available, Baze had no worries about what to do. " I'll just follow Barry's rule, and if it doesn't work....well at least he'll keep his mouth shut . " However, during the play of the hand, Baze got a count of the clubs : LHO had 3 and the RHO had 2. This meant the odds favoured the LHO holding the queen, and so ignoring Barry's rule he finessed for the queen to be under the jack .
It lost ! Meanwhile on the other table, Mike Smolen was playing the same hand, and being familiar with Barry's rule decided to follow it......utterly convinced that if Barry played the contract the board would be flat. However, he also had a sneaky feeling that Baze, with his superb technique, would try to get a count of the suit, and play it correctly in accordance with the odds. To Mike's immense relief, the doubleton queen was offside, and he made the contract.
At this point, Mike turned to his partner and said, " If Baze is declarer in this contract, then listen out for an explosion upstairs ." How true that prediction was. Baze misguessed the queen and Crane went ballistic, screaming like a lunatic, and then running out of the room. When he came back he appeared to threw the next 6 boards in a row, only to discover the team ended up losing the event by 0.2%. Naturally, he blamed it all on Baze.
And the moral of this story is never under-estimate the teachings and wisdom of superstitions. They are powerful pointers to help you succeed in both life and bridge. And should you choose not to abide by will be punished.
( Footnote : After this incident, Baze tried, in the following tournaments to keep track of how many times Barry's rule succeeded in such 4-4 layouts with two-way guesses available. To his great surprise, the rule worked twice as many times as the percentages would give it credit for. Clearly, superstition has an important role to play in bridge...that is , of course , if you want to be a winner. )

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