THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WEAK HANDS CAN STILL WIN TRICKS
William Arthur Ward, who coined many inspirational maxims, said, “A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths.”
A bridge player with a weak hand can sometimes do well by sounding strong. Look at today’s South hand. North opens one diamond. What should South do?
The textbooks tell South that without six points, he should pass. However, he has two five-card majors — and we love majors. He ought to bid one spade. Yes, it is not without risk, but he has a reasonable chance to improve the contract.
Here, North will raise to four spades. That would perhaps give South momentary pause, but when he sees the dummy, it will ease his concerns.
After West leads the club queen, how should declarer plan the play?
If South had passed over one diamond and West had passed also, that contract would probably have gone down one. But maybe West would have balanced with two clubs or (better) a takeout double. Then, though, North-South would have had a second chance to find their spade fit.
South has three top losers: two hearts and one club. He needs to establish his heart suit. And usually, in this situation, declarer should immediately play on that suit.
So, South wins with dummy’s club ace and leads a heart to, say, his nine and West’s jack. West cashes the club jack, then shifts to the diamond 10. Declarer wins with dummy’s ace and plays another heart. South trumps the next diamond and ruffs a heart high. When they split 3-3, he draws trumps ending in his hand and cashes his hearts.