THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
IF THE LEAD IS BAD, MAKE SURE TO PROFIT
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of “South Park,” wrote this line for that show: “Sometimes what’s right isn’t as important as what’s profitable.”
At the bridge table, usually what is right will be profitable. In this deal, South is in four spades. West leads the heart queen. How should declarer plan the play? Did West have a more profitable lead?
Note South’s two-heart rebid. Do not miss the opportunity to show a major. North rebid two spades because he had a maximum minimum; if South was strong enough to bid a third time, North’s hand would be worth game. Then, when South did continue with three diamonds, North mentioned his heart feature.
South starts with five losers: two hearts and three diamonds. He has nine winners: six spades, two hearts and one club. There are various chances for a 10th trick: hearts might be 3-3, but that is unlikely, especially given the opening lead; or East might have the diamond ace-king. (Even if diamonds are 3-3, declarer will probably lose one heart and three diamonds.) More profitable, though, is to remember that any time you can get a ruff in the shorter trump hand, it is probably the right line of play.
Declarer should take the first trick on the board, discard a diamond on the club ace, and continue with another heart. If East could ruff, South would probably fail. Here, though, East follows. Declarer wins with his ace and leads another heart. When back in his hand, South ruffs his last heart with dummy’s spade queen. Then he should silently thank West for not finding a trump lead.