THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WORK OUT DECLARER’S OPTIMUM STRATEGY
Jack Youngblood, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played for the Los Angeles Rams for 14 years, said, “I visualize things in my mind before I have to do them. It is like having a mental workshop.”
The most skillful bridge players can get inside the minds of their opponents. They can visualize exactly what that player would do from various holdings.
Today’s deal is an example of this. South is in three no-trump. West leads the heart three and declarer calls for dummy’s five. What should East do?
The auction was straightforward. South did not like to open one no-trump without a heart stopper, but the bid gave as accurate a description of his hand as possible. Yes, he might have opened one diamond, planning to rebid one spade over a one-heart response, but partner would have had a much fuzzier picture of South’s hand. The only makable game here is four spades, which is tough to reach.
Let’s return to East’s predicament. If South has ace-doubleton of hearts, East must put in his 10, finessing against partner (this week’s theme). But if South has jack-doubleton, East must win with his king. Which is correct?
Get into South’s mind. If he had ace-doubleton, which heart would he have played from the board?
Right — the queen. He would have hoped the opening lead was away from the king and tried to take a second heart trick. When he does not do that, he cannot have the heart ace. So East should confidently put up his king, expecting to win the trick. And five heart tricks later, the contract is down.