THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
IT’S HARD TO RESIST THE TEMPTATION
George Bernard Shaw said, “I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.”
At the bridge table, though, it can be difficult to recognize bids and plays that will prove to be bad for you. In this deal, for example, defending against a contract of four spades, West leads the club ace: three, two, eight. What should he do next?
The auction was straightforward. North made a three-spade game-invitational limit raise, showing 10-12 support points (high-card points plus shortage points, not that he had any of those here) and eight losers (one spade, one heart, three diamonds and three clubs). South had an easy raise to game.
One of the most irresistible temptations for a defender is to cash a winner. Here, less experienced players would take the club king at trick two, then look around for inspiration. But declarer would be in clover, losing only two clubs and one heart.
Instead, West should trust his partner’s trick-one signal. East dropped the two, his lowest card being discouraging. (If you and your partner use upside-down signals, East should play the nine at trick one.) This denies the queen (unless he has exactly queen-two-doubleton, which is very unlikely).
So West should shift at trick two, hoping his partner can get on lead early enough to push a club through South.
Here, any lead other than a spade at trick two defeats the contract, assuming East leads a club when he gets in with his heart ace.