THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TAKE ONE TURN OR THE OTHER
Gary Player said, “A good golfer has the determination to win and the patience to wait for the breaks.”
At the bridge table, the break in one suit can influence how declarer plays. In this example deal, South is in four spades. West cashes his three top clubs, then shifts to the heart three. How should declarer continue after taking East’s queen with his ace?
North, despite having a balanced hand, raises to two spades with three good trumps because he is very weak in an unbid suit. If his side belongs in three no-trump, probably South should be the declarer. And here, when South jumps to four spades, he ought to have at least a five-card suit so that he can guarantee an eight-card fit.
South has nine top tricks: five spades, one heart and three diamonds. He needs to establish a fourth diamond trick. This will be easy if diamonds are breaking 3-3, but if they are 4-2, declarer will have to ruff a diamond in his hand, draw trumps and be in the dummy to cash the last two diamonds.
The key question is: How are the trumps dividing?
South cashes his spade queen, then plays a spade to dummy’s king. If they split 4-1, declarer will have to draw trumps and hope that the diamonds divide 3-3. Here, though, he next plays a diamond to his ace, returns a diamond to dummy’s queen, ruffs a diamond high in his hand, leads a spade to dummy’s ace (drawing West’s last trump), and cashes the diamond king and six for his contract.