THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
SHOULD YOU TURN THIS WAY OR THAT?
George Eliot said, “Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what you think is right and stick to it.” (By the way, what was George Eliot’s real name?)
That is an excellent attitude to adopt in almost everything, including bridge. In today’s deal, South is in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest diamond, and East puts up the 10. What is the right line of play for declarer?
The auction is a straightforward Stayman sequence, with South’s two-spade rebid denying four hearts.
South starts with eight top tricks: one spade, two hearts, one diamond (given the first trick) and four clubs. For the ninth winner, it looks so natural to take the spade finesse. But when it loses (as it is bound to do in a bridge lesson or newspaper column), East returns a diamond and the defenders take five tricks: one spade and four diamonds.
South has to establish a ninth trick without letting East on lead. So declarer must play on hearts. He leads a club to the dummy, then runs the heart jack through East. Here, the finesse wins and South has his ninth winner. But even if the finesse had lost, West could not lead another diamond without conceding an extra trick to South.
Always think about the danger hand — the opponent you do not want on lead.
George Eliot’s real name was Mary Anne Evans. She used a male pen name because she believed she would be treated more seriously. In the 19th century, women authors were (incorrectly) thought only to write lighthearted romances.