THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A WAY TO RETAIN TRUMP CONTROL
Sylvester Stallone said, “Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.”
That does not apply to this deal, where declarer needs to retain trump control for success, not failure.
West leads the diamond ace against six hearts. How should South continue?
The auction might have gone several ways. North chose to show both of his suits (three clubs was game-forcing), then jumped to five hearts to try to highlight his diamond void and ask for good trumps. South’s three-diamond cue-bid asked his partner to bid three no-trump with a diamond stopper. Then, over three spades, he gave preference to clubs. If North had now bid six clubs, he would have made that slam easily, taking three spades, three hearts and six clubs. Also, North could have deduced that South held strong hearts when he did not bid three no-trump.
Declarer must resist the temptation of an overtrick. If hearts are breaking 3-2, South can take 16(!) tricks: three spades, five hearts, six clubs and two diamond ruffs in the dummy. But if South ruffs the opening lead on the board and tries to draw trumps by cashing two top hearts immediately, he will fail.
Instead, declarer should lead a trump from the board at trick two and play low from his hand. In that way, he retains a heart in the dummy to ruff another diamond, and he can then safely draw trumps before running the clubs.
Finally, note that if West had led his singleton spade, South probably would have failed. He would have needed mirrors to get home. The curious can work it out.