THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TIME THE PLAYS TO GET HOME
Jean Cocteau, a French poet and novelist who died in 1963, said, “The greatest masterpiece of literature is only a dictionary out of order.”
In most deals, the exact order in which you play the tricks does not matter too much. Occasionally, though, you have to follow a specific sequence, or you can be defeated by accurate defense.
Which applies in today’s deal? South is in three no-trump after East opened one spade. West leads the spade nine and East overtakes with his 10. What should declarer do?
Although East has only 11 high-card points, his hand is worth opening. He has length in the majors, an easy two-heart rebid, and if he finds a fit with his partner, his hand has only seven losers (two spades, two hearts, one diamond and two clubs), which is the normal number for a minimum opening bid with a five-card suit.
South starts with only six top tricks: two spades and four clubs. He might be able to get three more tricks from diamonds, but if he has to lose two diamond tricks, East will establish and run his spade suit to defeat the contract.
Instead, South should impale East on the tines of Morton’s Fork. Since East is marked with the missing aces, declarer should play a club to dummy’s jack, then lead the diamond nine.
If East wins with his ace, South takes two spades, four diamonds and four clubs for an overtrick. Or if East ducks his ace, declarer wins with his queen and leads the heart king from his hand to collect two spades, two hearts, one diamond and four clubs.