THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
SHOULD I WIN OR LOSE TRICK ONE?
Darin Weinberg, a research sociologist, said, “It matters not whether you win or lose; what matters is whether I win or lose.”
That is a good mantra for everybody, although no one wins all of the time.
In bridge, winning and losing tricks in the right order is often important. In this deal, after the most common auction of all, South is in three no-trump. West leads a fourth-highest heart four. How should declarer play?
South has five top tricks: four spades and one heart. He also seems to have several establishable tricks: one or two in hearts, one or two in diamonds and three in clubs. What could go wrong?
Well, the original declarer, expecting the opening lead to be away from the king, played low from the board. He planned to win with his jack, drive out the club ace and coast home with at least one overtrick. However, South was sadly disappointed. East produced the heart king, then accurately shifted to the diamond four.
When declarer drove out the club ace, West returned his second diamond and East took four tricks in the suit for down two.
Now let’s try winning the first trick and playing on clubs. What happens?
The contract succeeds. South has four spades, one heart and three clubs. If West leads back either red suit, declarer gains a ninth trick there. And if West returns a black suit, South plays a heart himself.
Yes, this line sacrifices an overtrick when West has the heart king, but those 30 points are paltry when compared to the 400 lost by going down instead of making.