THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TWO PLAYERS READ THE OPENING LEAD
Henny Youngman, a violinist well known for humorous one-liners, said, “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”
That does not sound like a good idea. At the bridge table, reading is very important. In particular, third hand and declarer should read the opening lead, working out what the leader has in that suit.
In this example deal, how should South plan the play in four spades after West leads the heart nine in answer to his partner’s overcall in the suit?
The North-South bidding was a tad aggressive, but we all love that vulnerable game bonus.
South starts with four potential losers: two diamonds and two clubs. However, given East’s bid, it is tempting to assume that he has the club ace. But if, say, South takes the first trick with his heart jack, draws trumps, and plays a diamond, East can win and shift to the club queen to defeat the contract.
What does the heart-nine lead indicate?
That East has the heart king and 10. How does that help?
South should cover the nine with dummy’s queen and take East’s king with his ace. Then, after drawing trumps ending in the dummy, South plays a heart to his eight and discards a club from the dummy on the heart jack. South takes five spades, three hearts, one diamond and an eventual club ruff in the dummy.
Note that if South calls for dummy’s heart four at trick one, East should not play third hand high; he should play low, not wasting an honor when declarer is marked with the heart jack and ace.