THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WITH TWO CHANCES, IS ONE PREFERABLE?
George Ade, a columnist and playwright who died in 1944, said, “If it were not for the presents, an elopement would be preferable.”
That is a distinctly materialistic attitude. In bridge, though, you will get presents, especially from defenders. And there is an elopement play — it is featured in this deal. First, though, look at the North hand. South opens two spades, a weak two-bid showing a respectable six-card suit and some 5-10 high-card points. What should North respond?
Second, how should South play in four spades after West leads the diamond queen?
In the bidding, there is an instinct to head for no-trump in the face of a misfit. But how will three no-trump ever make? Even if East ducks the first round of spades, North has only seven tricks: one spade, one heart, three diamonds (benefiting from the 3-3 break) and two clubs.
Instead, North should raise to four spades.
At first glance, it looks as though declarer will lose two spades, one diamond and one club. But perhaps he can take 10 tricks. To be honest, working out what to do in this deal requires some guesswork. However, with this layout, South can score his three low trumps with an elopement.
He wins the first trick on the board and plays a trump to his king. When that wins, he continues with the spade queen. Suppose East takes his ace and returns the spade 10. South wins, plays a heart to dummy’s ace, ruffs a heart in his hand, plays a diamond to the ace, ruffs another heart, takes dummy’s top clubs, and ruffs the last heart to make his contract.