THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
ONE LOSER GOOD; TWO LOSERS BAD
W.C. Fields said, “After two days in the hospital, I took a turn for the nurse.”
This deal would put some declarers into the hospital, metaphorically speaking. South is in four hearts. West leads the diamond two. East wins with his ace and returns the diamond eight. After ruffing, how should declarer proceed?
South’s three-heart rebid would usually advertise 14-16 high-card points, but this hand has seven clear-cut playing tricks, making it easily strong enough for the jump. Do not be locked into high-card points; always think about winners. North had a borderline raise, but we love to try for a game bonus, especially when vulnerable.
South has four potential losers: one spade, one diamond and two clubs. He has only nine immediate winners: one spade, seven hearts and one club. Declarer must get two club tricks.
Some players would go that far, draw trumps, cross to dummy with a spade, and play a club to their queen. But when the finesse lost, they would go down one and complain about being unlucky.
However, that was only a 50 percent line. There was a 63 percenter available. Along with East’s having the club king, South should also try to find East with the club jack and 10.
Declarer should cash his heart ace, play a heart to dummy’s king, then lead a club to his nine.
Here, it pulls out the king, ending South’s problem. But if West could have won the trick with the 10 or jack, declarer would have returned to dummy with a spade and played a club to his queen, losing nothing over finessing the queen on the first round.