THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
ANOTHER TRUMP SUIT THAT REQUIRES CARE
Ambrose Bierce defined a dentist as a prestidigitator who, while putting metal in one’s mouth, pulls coins out of one’s pockets.
A bridge player also wants it both ways: Heads I make my contract, tails you fail in yours.
In this deal, South is in four spades. West cashes his two top diamonds, then shifts to the club 10. How should declarer continue?
This is one auction that always mystifies less experienced players. By an unpassed hand, after partner’s takeout double and responder’s pass, if advancer (the doubler’s partner) makes a simple suit-bid, it shows some 0-8 points; a jump in a suit is approximately 9-11; and a cue-bid of the opener’s suit indicates 12 points or more. After South’s cue-bid, the auction turns to natural.
Declarer’s only problem is in the trump suit. He must avoid two losers. In this case, the bidding should help him, but the right play is the same, even if during the auction the opponents gave excellent impersonations of Trappist monks.
If South starts with a finesse of his queen, West wins with his king, and declarer has a nasty guess on the second round. Should he finesse East for the jack or play for West to have started with king-jack-doubleton?
Instead, South should first cash his spade ace. When the king drops, he can bring home an overtrick. But even if the ace collects only the five and six, declarer can cross to dummy and lead a spade toward his queen. He has no guess to make.