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The History of Restricted Choice

In 'The Expert Game', first published in 1958, Terence Reese starts his chapter on Restricted Choice by recording that "Early in the nineteen-fifties Alan Truscott drew attention in a magazine article to a principle of play whose effect had been dimly perceived but which in general has not been carried through to its conclusion.  Reese then analyses the play with KQ5 opposite A1073, and KQ5 opposite A973.

Jeff Rubens, in 'The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge' tells us that the underlying principles were first discussed by Alan Truscott in the 'Contract Bridge Journal'.  And happily the EBU has put all its old magazines online, so, at the cost of an of hour getting distracted by keenly fought 50s bridge politics, I was able to find what I think is the original article.

It's actually a small part of Truscott's regular "London and the South" feature.  He records (April 1954 p16) this hand:

West
Ax
A9xx
AKxxx
Jx
East
K10xxxxx
KQx
x
Ax
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

Joel Tarlo and Jim Sharples were not a regular partnership.  But Tarlo made up for it, helped by a very favourable lie:

"In the play North dropped the 10 on the second round of trumps, and it now looks like a guess who has the J. But Joel Tarlo took the finesse, and had a good reason for doing so. If North had had J10x to start with he would have had a choice of cards on the second round, and might well have false carded with the J. This greatly increases the chance that South has the missing honour. This line of thought, allowing for the defenders having had a choice of plays, crops up in many disguises. On the actual hand virtue was rewarded: the finesse won, the spades broke, and 13 tricks were made."

Truscott returned to the subject in his July article (p8), discussing a spade suit of 108x opposite AK9xxx:

"You cash the A, on which South drops the queen. Should you now play for the spades to drop, or finesse for the jack? The finesse is correct, because with QJ [sic] only South might equally well have played the jack. Whenever the drop of an honour gives you an extra chance of a finesse, take the finesse"

 __

EBU magazine archive: http://www.ebu.co.uk/englishbridge (well done the EBU)

 

 

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