THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
GET OUT OF YOUR PARTNER’S WAY
Ellen Hopkins, a novelist who writes primarily for teens and young adults, said, “For short-term relaxation, I take a hot tub. It’s my best way to unblock writers’ block, too.”
So, if you have a difficult decision to make at the bridge table, take a quick bath — if the other players don’t mind the delay, of course. Still, one of Hopkins’ words is relevant to this deal.
How can the defenders defeat three no-trump after West leads his fourth-highest spade to dummy’s bare king?
North was right to respond three no-trump. Mentally look on king-singleton as king-doubleton. Even when the opening leader has the ace, he isn’t going to lead it against a no-trump contract.
South starts with seven top tricks: one spade (given the first trick), three hearts, one diamond and two clubs. The extra winners can obviously come from diamonds. And if that finesse is working, declarer will take the first 11 tricks. Even if the finesse loses, South will be all right if the opponents cannot cash four spade tricks.
How can the defenders get those four spade winners? At trick one, East must drop his queen under dummy’s king.
This serves two purposes: It tells partner about the queen and jack, allowing him to underlead the ace on the next round, and it unblocks the suit. (West knows the queen cannot be a singleton, because that would give South six spades.)
Declarer will take the losing diamond finesse, whereupon the defenders can run four spade tricks — but only if East unblocked the queen at trick one.