THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
AN EXCEPTION TO THE NORMAL RULE
Groucho Marx said, “I never forget a face, but I’ll make an exception in your case.”
In yesterday’s deal, declarer had to establish his side suit before drawing trumps in order to make his contract. That is typically the case, but there are always exceptions to the rules, which is one of the main reasons bridge retains its popularity.
In today’s deal, South is in four spades. West leads the club king. How should declarer continue after ruffing the third round of clubs?
When North raised spades, South re-evaluated. He had 15 high-card points and three short-suit points, two for the singleton heart and one for the doubleton club. That gave a total of 18 points. Also, his excellent diamond suit was a plus value. Hence South’s jump to game.
South needs to find trumps 3-2, but that still gives him three top losers: one spade and two clubs. He must establish and run his diamond suit. Here, though, if he plays on that suit first, he will unluckily fail. After cashing his diamond ace and king, he ruffs a diamond in the dummy. However, East overruffs from only two trumps and declarer loses two spade tricks.
South should start with two rounds of trumps. Then he cashes his top diamonds and ruffs a diamond. Finally, he returns to his hand with his carefully conserved heart ace and plays out winning diamonds. West may ruff whenever he pleases, but declarer still has one trump left to ruff another club.
Did you notice that dummy’s heart king is a red-card herring? Discarding a diamond from hand would not help South to get home.