THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
STEP FROM TRICK ONE TO TRICK FOUR
Henny Youngman said, “I bet on a horse at 10 to one. It didn’t come in until half-past five.”
Bridge defenders must time getting the tricks that they need to defeat the contract before the declarer has won the number that he requires.
In this deal, the defenders require five tricks to beat three spades. West leads the heart ace. What should happen after that?
West doubled on the second round to show five hearts, four diamonds and extra values. (To bid three diamonds would have guaranteed a five-card suit.) North raised spades to indicate a promising hand, but South had nothing to spare, and those three low hearts were a warning bell.
Under the heart ace, East signals with his 10, starting a high-low (echo) with a doubleton. Now West can see four defensive tricks via the spade ace and three top hearts, but where is the fifth winner?
Next, West should consider the high-card points. After checking the dummy and his hand, he sees there are only 11 points missing. South must have most or all of them for his advance at the two-level, which I think should be forcing by an unpassed hand. If East and West cannot get another side-suit trick, they must collect a second trump trick.
West should cash the heart king to confirm East’s doubleton, then shift to his singleton club.
South will win in his hand and play a trump, but West takes the trick and continues with his heart two, the lowest card being a suit-preference signal. East ruffs and returns a club, which West ruffs for down one.