THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TRY TO MISCONSTRUE THE DEAL FOR WEST
Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general who died of pneumonia at only 39, said, “Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy if possible.”
That certainly applies to bridge players, especially when the declarer. (It is usually dangerous for a defender to mislead his partner.)
In this deal, South is in four hearts. Which card should declarer play at trick one after West leads the spade ace and East drops the four?
South knows that East has just played a singleton (unless West made an unusual overcall in a four-card suit). But West does not know that.
Suppose South plays his spade seven. Then West will know it is safe to cash his spade king, because East would not have dropped the four from 10-4-2. And the same applies if South follows suit with his 10.
Instead, South must play his two. Then West will wonder if East started with 10-7-4. Yes, West might still get it right, thinking that East would have raised to two spades with three trumps and forgetting that the auction suggests East has a very weak hand. But West will be nervous about leading the spade king at trick two, lest South ruff it and later get a critical discard on dummy’s spade queen.
As you can see, if West continues spades, the defenders take two spades, one spade ruff and the club king to defeat the contract. If West does anything else, the contract makes.
If declarer is trying to disrupt the opponents’ signals, he should copy their methods. He should play low to try to discourage a continuation, or vice versa.