FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

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Bridge Aug 25

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THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder SHOULD YOU GO OUT OR SIT AND WAIT? Claude Bernard, a French physiologist who died in 1878, said, “Observation is a passive science, experimentation an active science.” At the bridge table, you must actively observe. And when you are on defense, you have to decide whether to round up a posse and go out actively hunting for tricks, or to sit at home and passively wait for declarer to knock on your door and give you tricks. This week we will study the various factors that affect your choice. First, though, look at the West hand and the auction in today’s diagram. What would you lead against four spades? In the auction, South might have rebid three hearts because North could have held three spades and four or five hearts, when four hearts would probably have been the right game. But raising immediately to four spades kept the defenders in the dark. When being active on defense, you lead from honors or very short suits; when passive, you often start with a trump. On the majority of deals, it will be right to defend actively. And that applies here. If West leads a trump, South will win, draw a second round, cash his two club honors, go to dummy with a trump, and discard his two diamonds on the club ace and queen. Then he will attack hearts, losing two tricks there but coming home with an overtrick. Instead, if West leads the diamond two, the contract — surprise, surprise — can be defeated. East can take the trick with the ace and shift to his singleton heart. West wins two tricks in that suit and gives his partner a heart ruff for down one.

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