THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
BOTH SIDES CAN MAKE GOOD PLAYS
George Mikes was born in Hungary in 1912, but lived in Britain from 1946 until his death in 1987. He was known for his amusing commentaries on various countries. About Britain, he said, “English humor resembles the Loch Ness Monster in that both are famous, but there is a strong suspicion that neither exists.”
I disagree with half of that — and it is only slightly relevant that I was born in England. True, the British sense of humor is dry, but have you not laughed at Britcoms on PBS? However, the key word is “both.” Here, both sides can make good plays.
South is in three no-trump. After West leads a fourth-highest spade five, what should happen?
South starts with seven top tricks: three spades, one heart, two diamonds and one club. He must get his extra tricks from dummy’s diamonds. And there is a natural reaction, after winning the first trick in hand, to play a diamond to dummy’s king and cash the diamond ace, planning on playing a third round. Here, though, when West discards a spade (not a heart!) on the second diamond, even with the heart finesse working, the contract can no longer be made.
The correct technique is to duck (lose) the first diamond trick. Then, if the defenders continue plugging away at spades, South can win in his hand and play three rounds of diamonds to establish two winners in the dummy while the spade ace remains as an entry.
If West is allowed to hold the first diamond trick, he knows that the spade suit is hopeless. He should shift to his club king, under which East should signal with his jack. Then the contract fails.