THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A DEAL WITH POINTS FOR BOTH SIDES
How many five-putts were there on the PGA tour last year?
This deal has instructive points for both sides. The auction went as given. Note, in particular, East’s pass. Yes, West might have had a three-suiter with a heart void, and a contract of four spades would have either made or been a cheap save when four hearts doubled was making. But it is the percentage action to pass when balanced. It is usually easier to win four tricks than 10. (Yes, here five clubs makes, but how would you get there?)
West led the spade ace: five, two, three. What happened after that?
Since East’s low card denied the spade queen, West anticipated that South had begun with queen-doubleton. So West could see four probable tricks. However, his partner rated to have one of the minor-suit kings — but which one?
When West cashed the spade king, East made a suit-preference signal. Because he held the diamond king, he dropped his spade eight. (With the club king, East would have followed with his four.)
Now West led a low diamond. East won with his king and shifted to the club jack. The defenders took two tricks there. South, down to eight trumps, ruffed the next play and cashed the heart ace to drop the king and get out for down two.
Did you notice South’s error? He should have played his spade queen at trick one. Then it would have been dangerous for West to continue with the spade king, lest South ruff, cash the heart ace, get to dummy with the heart queen, and discard two losers on the spade jack and nine.
There were a surprising 11 five-putts on the PGA tour in 2013.