THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN CONTROL?
Sylvester Stallone said, “Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.”
In today’s deal, success is the culmination of controlling the trump suit. This is easier to do when presented with a deal on paper. At the table, it is harder because no one is ringing a warning bell.
South is in four hearts. West starts the defense with his three top spades. How should South continue?
North opened one club because his hand was too strong for a 15-17-point no-trump. South was tempted simply to raise clubs. However, he knew that the game revolves around the majors. So he responded one heart. West made a takeout double, promising four spades and four or more diamonds. North’s jump to game was an overbid given his 4-3-3-3 distribution, but he wanted to try for the game bonus. If he had bid only three hearts, South would have also had a close decision. And note that in five clubs, North should lose two spades and one diamond.
It looks so easy: Ruff the third spade, draw trumps and run the clubs for an overtrick.
Here, though, when West discards on the second round of hearts, the contract is suddenly unmakable. Declarer has lost trump control.
South should be happy to lose one trump trick in order to get these 10: three hearts, one diamond, five clubs and the spade ruff. Declarer must concede the first or second round of trumps. Then he can win East’s return, draw trumps and run the clubs.
At the worst, this line costs an overtrick when hearts are 3-2 all along.