THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WHICH OF THE ROADS SHOULD SOUTH SELECT?
There is a Chinese proverb that says: “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”
Wouldn’t it be nice at the bridge table to ask someone who has already played the deal where the missing cards are located? Sadly, the game doesn’t work that way. You must make your own decisions on which roads to take.
In this deal, South is in six hearts. After West leads the diamond king, what should declarer do?
North employed the Jacoby Forcing Raise. South’s three-diamond rebid showed a singleton (or void) in that suit. The next three calls were control-bids (cue-bids), after which South bid what he thought he could make.
Declarer has a potential loser in each black suit. He starts with 11 top tricks: two spades, six hearts, one diamond, one club and a diamond ruff in the South hand. So declarer needs either a third spade winner or a second club trick. However, which of those roads should he take?
To get a third spade trick requires a 3-3 break, which the mathematicians will tell you happens about one-third of the time. To obtain a second club winner requires finding East with at least one club honor. Now the probability rises to approximately three-quarters.
The right road is clear. South should win with dummy’s diamond ace, draw trumps staying on the board and run the club 10. It loses to West’s queen, but when declarer returns to the dummy with a spade and takes a second club finesse, that works and he can claim.