FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE BIDDING PLACES THE MISSING HONORS

Jean Nidetch, a co-founder of Weight Watchers, said, “It’s choice — not chance — that determines your destiny.” At the bridge table, sometimes chance does determine your destiny. For example, when you are in a contract that depends solely on a finesse. But much more often, your choices are the determining factor.
In today’s deal, West had two choices on the first round of the auction: to make a takeout double or to overcall one no-trump. Here, the double would have worked much better, because it would not have placed all of the missing honors in his hand. But West preferred one no-trump because it defined his hand strength much more accurately than double.
Against four hearts, West led the diamond queen. How did South plan the play?
North’s decision to jump to three hearts worked well. Anything less and his side probably would not have reached game.
Declarer was faced with four potential losers: one heart and three clubs. And since only 16 points were missing, West was marked with the heart king and club ace. South saw that his only chance was an endplay.
After taking the first trick, he cashed his heart ace, relieved to see East follow suit. Then declarer cashed his other top diamond and dummy’s top spades, ruffed the spade five in his hand, and exited a trump.
West won with his king, but had no riposte. If he had shifted to clubs, South would have scored his king. But when West led the diamond jack, declarer discarded a club from the board and ruffed in his hand. He then claimed, conceding two club tricks.

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