THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TAPPING THE DUMMY MIGHT STRAND A SUIT
Mitch Hedberg, a stand-up comedian who died in 2005, said, “I would imagine that if you could understand Morse code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.”
In a few bridge deals, the defenders can lead declarer through a merry dance by tapping him — leading side-suit winners to make declarer ruff in one hand or the other. This is usually done either to make declarer lose trump control, or to strand a long suit so that declarer cannot establish and run it.
This deal occurred during a social game and the auction is given as it happened. After the first round, I think South should have made a negative double to show his heart suit, not responded one no-trump without a sure spade stopper. North did not know what to do over two spades. Not expecting his partner to have four hearts, North wondered about three no-trump and five clubs. So he cue-bid three spades to ask South if he really could control spades. Now South tried four hearts, which North, reading correctly, passed. Yes, perhaps he should have chosen five clubs, an easy contract to make.
Against four hearts, West led an imaginative spade king. South ruffed in the dummy and should have immediately played on clubs. But before leading the club king, he drew two rounds of trumps, leaving the ace on the board.
East erred by winning with his club ace. Yes, ducking risks South’s having only a singleton, but declarer would surely have played a club at trick two in that situation. If East had taken the second club and led another spade to tap the dummy, the contract would have gone down in flames.