THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
DO NOT RISK YOUR CONTRACT
Our friend A.N. Other said, “Don’t gamble unless you can afford to lose, and if you can afford to lose, you don’t have to gamble.”
At the bridge table, unless you are playing in a pair event, where overtricks can be valuable, do not gamble your contract. Just take the guaranteed line to get home.
Today’s deal would not only snare gamblers, but would also catch out those who play too quickly at trick one.
The bidding went off the rails slightly when it did not end in three no-trump. South was propelled into five clubs. After West guessed well to lead a diamond, what should declarer have done?
North’s two-heart bid was fourth-suit game-forcing. His three-club continuation was reasonable because six clubs could have been a good contract if South had, say, 4-3-1-5 shape. But over South’s three hearts, North should have bid three no-trump.
With only one top loser, the trump ace, it looks safe to take the diamond finesse at trick one. However, if East wins and shifts to a heart, suddenly five clubs has no chance.
Instead, South should win the first trick with dummy’s ace and attack trumps. Let’s assume East takes the second round and switches to a heart. Declarer wins with his ace, unblocks dummy’s two spades, plays a trump to his hand, discards dummy’s remaining hearts on his ace-jack of spades, ruffs the heart jack on the board, and claims, conceding one diamond and one club.