THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
STOP, THINK, DEFEND — DEFEAT THE CONTRACT
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, said, “A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.”
Some bridge experts are like that, playing almost by instinct. Others grind it out, calculating the correct actions. The less capable tend to react almost subconsciously, making the “natural” play without time for analysis. It would be a great idea for almost everyone to slow down.
In this deal, for example, look at the North and East hands. Against four spades, West leads the club queen. How should East plan the defense?
West was aggressive in raising to two clubs, but he had a singleton and liked the favorable vulnerability. North’s three-club advance was a modern cue-bid raise. It guaranteed at least three-card spade support and a minimum of game-invitational values. South had sufficient high-card power to jump to game.
The defenders need four tricks. East can anticipate two clubs and one spade, but where is the other winner?
That singleton diamond should be smiling at East. But it is probably pointless discouraging clubs at trick one. West would surely shift to his heart 10. Instead, East should take control. He should overtake the club queen with his king and switch to his singleton. Then he can take the first or second round of trumps, lead a low club to put his partner back on play, and receive the lethal diamond ruff.
It is an excellent idea to pause at trick one. Just tell declarer that you want to analyze the deal.