THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WHICH BLACK SUIT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Kin Hubbard, a journalist and humorist who died in 1930, said, “No matter how much strong black coffee we drink, almost any after-dinner speech will counteract it.”
This deal centers on the black suits, one stronger than the other. Would you prefer to be in four spades or five clubs?
Let’s assume that South is in four spades and West leads a diamond. East wins with his 10 and continues with the diamond ace. How should South continue after ruffing?
The auction is difficult. South might rebid three clubs, not two hearts, because his hearts are so weak — but we love majors. North’s three diamonds is a game-forcing cue-bid. Then, when South shows club support, North might well bid game in that suit.
Five clubs makes unless East leads a trump, which is feasible when South shows a three-suited hand. But if East starts with the diamond ace before shifting to a club, North wins in his hand, ruffs a diamond in the dummy (South), plays a heart to his ace, ruffs another diamond, leads a heart to the king, draws trumps, tries unsuccessfully to drop the spade queen and claims, conceding one heart.
In four spades, South should plan on losing two spades and one diamond. He draws two rounds of trumps and turns to the clubs. West ruffs the third round and leads a diamond, but South ruffs, plays a heart to the king and discards a heart on the next club. The contract makes.
Did you notice that East missed a nigh-impossible defense? If he had shifted to a heart at trick two, it would have removed a key dummy entry. Try it and see.