Baron Barclay: Bridge column, 10th of July, 2005

'I Fought The Law'
by Frank Stewart, USA (Los Angeles Times Syndicate)

West dealer
N-S vulnerable

S 2
H Q J 9 6 3
D Q J 8 7 4
C 6 5
S A J 10 4 Table S K Q 9 8
H 10 8 H A 7 5 2
D A 10 9 D 3
C 10 9 4 3 C K J 8 7
S 7 6 5 3
H K 4
D K 6 5 2
C A Q 2

West North East South
pass pass 1 C pass
1 S DBL 3 S 4 D
DBL pass pass pass

Mike Lawrence, whose credentials as an author are second to none, and Swedish expert Anders Wirgren have produced a scholarly book that all players, but especially disciples of the "Law of Total Tricks," should read. The law, treated in a best-selling book by Larry Cohen, states that the total number of trumps both sides have in their best suit should equal the total number of tricks available in the deal. In today's deal, East-West have eight spades and North-South have nine diamonds, hence 17 tricks should be won at spade and diamond contracts.
   Many players have come to rely on the LOTT to make competitive decisions, but Lawrence relates how the deal made him look with suspicion on the "law." Mike was West, and when North-South competed to four diamonds, he doubled. He thought he might make four spades, but then, according to the LOTT, South would be down three at four diamonds.
   When Lawrence led a club, South won with the queen. He forced out the ace of trumps and lost only to the defenders' three aces, making four for plus 710 points. Much later, Lawrence found that a spade opening lead would beat the contract, but as he points out, the law assumes perfect play and defense that don't always happen.
   In "I Fought the Law," Lawrence and Wirgren address the LOTT's inaccuracies and the misconceptions players have about it. They put forth an improved method. To get "I Fought the Law," a landmark book, go to

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Copyright © 2016, Mike Lawrence & Anders Wirgren