THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A SMALL PLUS MAY PROVIDE A BIG PLUS
Albert Einstein said, “If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x, y is play, and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
If B is success in bridge, x is bidding, y is declarer-play and defense, and z is keeping your mouth shut whenever partner makes a mistake.
However, for success in today’s deal, South needs to find the best play to bring home nine tricks in no-trump. What should he do after West leads the heart jack?
South starts with eight top tricks: one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and two clubs. He has two principal chances to generate an extra winner: Find hearts 3-3 or establish a second spade trick.
The first is unlikely, given the lead, but declarer should take the first trick and cash another heart. When East follows, South can afford to cash his last heart; but here East discards a diamond.
How should declarer play the spades?
If entries were no issue, best would be to cash dummy’s ace, then to duck a round of the suit. Dummy would be entered again and a third round led toward the queen.
Here, though, that is impossible. Some would just play a spade to the ace and return one to the queen — and here go down. But it cannot cost to play a low spade from each hand on the first round of the suit.
When declarer regains the lead, he plays a spade to dummy’s ace. Here the king appears, but if his majesty does not, South could still lead toward his queen. He would get home whenever East has the king, or the suit is 3-3, or West has king-singleton or king-doubleton.