THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
GIVE UP ONE TO GET THREE IN RETURN
Carl Sandburg, a poet who won three Pulitzer Prizes, said, “A politician should have three hats: one for throwing into the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.”
A bridge declarer should have three hats: one for counting his losers, one for counting his winners, and one for watching his entries — our theme this week.
In today’s deal, how would a milliner play in three no-trump after West leads the spade queen?
The South hand has only 21 high-card points, but it is strong enough to open two clubs instead of two no-trump. Count two for an ace and one for a king. A typical two-no-trump opening totals seven. This hand tallies to nine. Upgrade when you have a lot of aces and kings.
North is nearly worth a slam-invitational rebid of four no-trump, but not quite. With no five-card suit or 4-4 fit, you normally need a combined 33 points for six no-trump.
South starts with seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one club. He would hope to get a third diamond trick, assuming the missing cards split 3-2. But declarer would still need another winner. It is much simpler to take three club tricks. However, South must be careful both not to block the suit and to have a dummy entry available after driving out the club king.
Declarer must take the first trick in his hand with the spade king, cash the club ace, and play another club — and keep leading that suit until West takes his king. With the spade ace still on the board, the contract is guaranteed.