“Do you like the law of total tricks?” Unlucky Louie asked me.
“It’s no ‘law,’” I said. “It’s often on target, especially in partscore deals.”
The LOTT states that the total number of trumps both sides have in their best suit equals the number of tricks they can win. Louie was East in today’s deal where East-West had 10 hearts and North-South 10 spades.
“So 20 tricks should have been available at heart and spade contracts,” Louie said. “I might have gone to five hearts. I could guess the total number of trumps as 20, so if I couldn’t make five hearts, four spades was unbeatable.”
At four spades, South temptingly put up dummy’s king on the first diamond, and Louie took his ace and returned a diamond. South lost a trump and, with the clubs sitting well, one club. Making four.
“Five hearts was cold,” Louie told me glumly.
The LOTT often breaks down at high levels where the distribution may be freakish, but Louie had more to gain by bidding on. If five hearts was makable, then per the LOTT, Louie would be only plus 50 against four spades. And minus 50 at five hearts would be better than minus 420.
Louie had a chance to beat four spades. West’s 1NT marked him with two diamonds, so Louie could duck the first diamond. South could succeed by leading the A-J of hearts, pitching his last diamond (so the LOTT was off by one trick), but if South led a trump next, West could take the ace and lead his last diamond. Louie could win and lead a third diamond to promote a trick for West’s 10-9 of trumps.
Neither side vulnerable
S Q 6 4
H A J
D K 6 4 2
C K J 9 4
S A 10 9
H K Q 5 2
D J 3
C A Q 8 3
H 9 8 7 6 4 3
D A 10 9 7 5
C 10 6
S K J 8 7 5 3 2
D Q 8
C 7 5 2
West North East South
1 NT Pass 2 H 2 S
3 H 3 S 4 D 4 S
Opening lead — D J
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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment