THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TAKE THE RULE BOOK WITH A PINCH OF SALT
Jimmy Carter, in his farewell presidential address, said, “Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities — not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.”
Bridge is full of rules that need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Always treat each deal on its own merits; do not thoughtlessly assume that the “textbook” play will be right.
How does that apply to this deal? South is in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest heart. South takes East’s 10 with his king and runs the diamond 10. What should happen after that?
South did not like to open one no-trump with two unstopped suits, but he had no more accurate sequence available.
The books recommend returning partner’s suit in no-trump — and it is true that that will be right much more often than not. (In a suit contract, shifting will be better a lot of the time.) But if East does that here, South will take the trick with his heart ace and drive out West’s diamond ace. West may shift to a club, but declarer plays low from the dummy and loses only two diamonds and two clubs.
Instead, East should pause for thought at trick three. Surely West has the diamond ace, because if South had that card, he would have cashed it before trying the diamond finesse. And if West is about to gain the lead, East should see how to defeat the contract. At trick three, he leads his club three.
South wins with his 10 and continues diamonds, but West should take the trick and lead his second club. Then East gets three tricks in the suit to defeat the contract.