THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
SOUTH MUST DETECT AND DETOUR DANGER
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In today’s deal, declarer not only has to see the danger to his contract, but then must also work out how to survive. How should South play in six hearts after West leads the diamond queen?
Most pairs treat South’s three-heart response as forcing for one round. The aide-memoire is “six and 16″ — at least a six-card suit and 16 high-card points. North raises, knowing that two honors doubleton are easily as good as three low.
South has three possible losers: two spades and one heart. However, as long as he can ruff his spade losers, he can afford a heart loser. Or, if he has no trump loser, he can afford one spade loser.
Whenever you can ruff a loser in the shorter trump hand, it is almost certain to be the right line of play. So, South should immediately cash his two top spades and ruff a spade in the dummy — but with which trump?
Here, if South ruffs with dummy’s 10, East overruffs and returns a trump to defeat the contract. Instead, though, declarer ruffs with dummy’s king, returns to his hand with a diamond, and ruffs his last spade with the heart 10. East may overruff, but that is his only trick.