THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THERE IS ALWAYS AN EXCEPTION
This week we are studying “finessing against partner” by third hand. This happens when that defender plays a card lower than his highest. This was the rule I gave yesterday: When dummy has one honor, third hand holds a higher honor, and dummy plays low, (normally) third hand saves his honor when he can insert a nine or higher.
However, as you know, there always seem to be exceptions to the rule. The most common is highlighted by today’s deal.
South is in four spades. West leads the club three. What should happen?
North made a game-invitational limit raise, promising at least four-card spade support with 10-12 support points (high-card points plus short-suit points) and eight losers (here, two spades, one heart, two diamonds and three clubs). South has just enough to try for the game bonus.
West’s normal lead is a low club. It is true that if this saves declarer a guess in the suit, a trump start would probably have been safer. But usually it is better to defend actively, not passively.
If East puts in his club nine at trick one, declarer will win with his 10 and drive out the spade ace. East can then return a low club, but South will put up his king, knowing that West wouldn’t lead away from an ace at trick one. Declarer would lose only one spade, one heart and one club.
Let’s go back to the first trick and have East win it with his club ace, then lead back the nine (the higher of two remaining cards). Now South must lose one spade, one heart and two clubs.