THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
DO NOT MISS THE SECOND CHANCE
G.C. Lichtenberg, an 18th-century German physicist and philosopher, wrote, “The greatest events occur without intention playing any part in them; chance makes good mistakes and undoes the most carefully planned undertaking. The world’s greatest events are not produced — they happen.”
That assertion would not meet with universal agreement. However, at the bridge table, missing a chance to make a contract can be a bad mistake. Let’s see if you can produce the winning line in today’s deal.
South is in three no-trump. West leads the spade queen. How should declarer play?
South’s two-no-trump response showed a balanced 10-12 points with no four-card major. (South might have made a limit raise in diamonds, especially if via a two-diamond inverted minor-suit raise, but we much prefer no-trump to a minor. Yes, I have noticed that five diamonds is laydown.)
First, a defensive point. East must either signal encouragement with his seven or, even better, throw the king onto the table. West would not have led the queen without the jack and nine.
South starts with seven top tricks: one spade, three hearts, one diamond and two clubs. But given that his spade ace will have evaporated by trick two, he cannot afford to lose the lead until he is home.
The natural instinct is to take the diamond finesse. But there is a second, admittedly unlikely, chance. Before gambling on the diamonds, cash dummy’s club ace and king. Here the queen drops and declarer has nine winners via one spade, three hearts, one diamond and four clubs. If the club queen does not appear, South crosses to his hand with a heart and runs the diamond 10.