THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
ENTER THE MIND OF YOUR OPPONENT
Albert Bandura, who was ranked in 2002 as the fourth most frequently quoted psychologist behind B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget, said, “Coping with the demands of everyday life would be exceedingly trying if one could arrive at solutions to problems only by actually performing possible options and suffering the consequences.”
Unfortunately, though, at the bridge table, if you chose a line that fails, you are not given a second chance. You must arrive at a solution to your problem before playing on.
In this deal, North launches South into six spades. West leads a fourth-highest diamond four. East wins with his king and shifts to the heart jack. How should South continue?
If you and your partner would have bid to six clubs (or the lucky six hearts), well done. If you would have stopped in game in spades, you perhaps did well. But let’s suppose all those points caused North to have a surge of pointed-black-suit adrenaline. (Yes, this would be a good deal for Roman Key Card Blackwood, because North would learn that an ace and the spade queen were missing.)
The normal percentage play for no spade losers is a second-round finesse. However, if East has queen-third of spades, why didn’t he continue with the diamond ace at trick two, forcing dummy to ruff? He knows from his partner’s opening lead that you have another diamond in your hand. Don’t fall for it. Play off the spade king and spade ace. If West’s queen does not drop, you couldn’t have made the contract.