THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
HE ALLEGED NINE, SO HUNTED FOR NINE
Earl Wilson, a journalist who wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column called “It Happened Last Night,” said, “A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.”
Three no-trump is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine tricks. Well, what should South do in this deal after West leads the heart two in answer to his partner’s overcall, and South takes East’s queen with his king (or ace)?
After East’s one-heart intervention, South had two choices: a takeout double (if North would have read it as such!) or a natural two-no-trump rebid, showing a balanced hand with 18, 19 or a poor 20 points and hearts well held. Since North could have still looked for a 4-4 spade fit at the three-level, South made the same rebid that he would have produced if East had remained silent.
South starts with only five top tricks: two spades, two hearts and one club. Since the club finesse is probably losing, declarer should try to add four diamond tricks to bring his total up to nine.
It looks so easy to lead the diamond queen or jack at trick two, but with this layout, that costs the contract. East wins the trick and establishes his hearts. When diamonds break badly and the club finesse is losing, South cannot recover.
As a small safety play, declarer should cross to dummy’s spade king, then lead a low diamond toward his hand. Here, the ace appears, collecting only low cards, and the contract is safe. However, if the ace does not appear, South wins the trick and continues the suit, hoping for a 3-2 break.