THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
WITH ONE FEWER CARD, IT WOULD BE EASIER
Bridge can be a strange game at times. Usually, you are happy to have lots of honors, but occasionally you would find a contract much easier if it weren’t for an unnecessary high card. Do not resist the idea that an honor may be extraneous.
In this deal, South is in four spades. West leads the club king. How should South plan the play?
South starts with four potential losers: one heart, one diamond and two clubs. He has nine winners; six spades, one heart, one diamond and one club. So it seems as if the diamond finesse had better be winning. In theory, this is a 50-50 shot, but surely you know that finesses never work on Mondays! And if the diamond finesse is failing, is there any other way to make the contract?
How about trying to establish dummy’s diamond suit? As long as the suit is splitting 3-3 or 4-2 (or 5-1 with a singleton king) and trumps are not 4-0, an extra diamond winner can be established.
South should take the first or second club, play a trump to his king, cash the diamond ace, and continue with the diamond queen.
Suppose West takes that trick, cashes two club winners and shifts to a heart.
Declarer wins on the board, ruffs a diamond high in his hand, leads a trump to dummy’s jack, ruffs another diamond high, returns to dummy with a spade and cashes the diamond eight — bingo.
The probability for this line is approximately 78 percent — much better than a finesse. And without the superfluous diamond queen in his hand, South would have seen this line immediately.