THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WHEN THEY TELL YOU, LISTEN AND BENEFIT
Don Marquis, a novelist, poet, newspaper columnist and playwright who died in 1937, said, “A pessimist is a person who has had to listen to too many optimists.”
A bridge expert is a person who listens to his opponents, whether they are optimists or pessimists, and uses that information to his benefit.
In this deal, look at the auction and the East cards. South is in four hearts. West leads a fourth-highest spade two. How should East plan the defense?
South’s sequence of clubs – hearts – hearts showed (at least) five hearts and six clubs. If South had had equal length in his two suits, he would have responded one heart, not two clubs. After that, it was nigh impossible for South to pass out three no-trump, which would have made. And it was understandable that North went for the major-suit game instead of correcting to five clubs, which would also have come home here.
West’s spade-two lead is from a four-card suit. This means that South has two spades to go with his five hearts and six clubs; he must be void in diamonds. Similarly, East knows that West is void in clubs.
South’s best chance is to win with the spade ace and to call for the heart jack, feigning taking a finesse in the suit. But East should not fall for it. He should win with his ace and return the club nine, his highest being a suit-preference signal asking for a spade return.
West ruffs and leads a spade. East takes the trick and gives his partner a second ruff for down one.