THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
GET INTO THE HABIT OF GOOD HABITS
Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart.”
That certainly applies to bridge players — although claiming that all players’ natures are alike would be stretching the truth.
This week we are exploring some common habits of players that can cost points.
Look at the North and East hands. Against four hearts, West leads the club six. How should East plan the defense?
South opened with a weak two-bid, showing a respectable six-card suit and 5-10 high-card points. One can be a tad liberal when nonvulnerable. North understandably took a shot at game. He knew that they might lose the first four tricks in the black suits, but maybe the contract was laydown, or perhaps West might lead a diamond, letting South run for home with hearts headed by the king-queen.
The adage that does not work on this deal is “return your partner’s suit.” That is much more likely to be right in no-trump than in a suit. Here, if East returns a club, West wins the trick but is endplayed. He cannot do better than to exit with a diamond to dummy’s jack. But South continues with the heart ace and another trump to take one spade, five hearts and four diamonds.
East can see three probable winners in the heart king, club ace and club king. (West would not have been likely to lead from jack-high clubs.) The fourth trick has to come from spades. If West holds that ace, there is no hurry, but if he has the king, there isn’t a moment to lose.
At trick two, East must shift to the spade seven (top of nothing). Then the contract will fail.