THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
IF HE ERRS, TAKE ADVANTAGE
Jef Mallett, the “Frazz” cartoonist, said, “Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.’”
When the defenders play perfectly, declarer is sometimes unable to make his contract. On other deals, though, a defender will fail to find the killing play. Then declarer needs to take full benefit.
In this deal, West cashes three club tricks against four hearts. He then shifts to a diamond. How should South continue?
A four-heart opening bid usually indicates an eight-card suit. However, South decided to tell a small white lie because he was nonvulnerable and the opponents were vulnerable. West wondered if his side could do well, but he had too few points to act at the four-level. North and East had easy passes.
When West had to guess which suit to lead at trick four, he decided that South would be more likely to pre-empt when very short in the other major. Hence his diamond lead. (As you can see, a spade switch would have been lethal.)
Now let’s look at South’s predicament. He needs to take three pointed-suit tricks to go with his seven trump winners. Should he finesse in spades or in diamonds?
Either is a pure guess. But he can slightly improve his chances. He should win with dummy’s diamond ace, ruff a diamond in his hand, cash the heart ace, play a heart to dummy’s nine and ruff another diamond.
Here, the king comes tumbling down. So South can draw trumps and claim. But if the diamond king does not appear, declarer can run his trumps, planning to fall back on the spade finesse.