THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
DO NOT LEAP BEFORE LOOKING
Edwin Percy Whipple, a 19th-century essayist, wrote, “Talent jogs to conclusions to which Genius takes giant leaps.”
That is fine as long as Genius isn’t missing the mark, which can happen. Slowly reaching the right answer is much better than jumping to the wrong conclusion.
In today’s deal, South is in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest spade. East wins with his ace and returns the two (lowest of three remaining cards). South wins with his king and cashes the club ace, but East discards a spade. How should declarer proceed from there? Also, what do you think of the bidding?
Taking those questions in reverse order, South should open two no-trump. He has 21 prime points with so many aces and kings. To open one diamond and rebid three clubs would probably work fine here, but it would risk missing a slam because partner would not expect such a powerful hand.
The bad club break is bothersome, but might South still take nine tricks?
Yes, if he can collect one spade, three hearts, three diamonds and two clubs. This seems to require the diamond finesse. And that is a favorite, given that West started with five spades and four clubs. (The odds have gone up from 50 to 69 percent.)
However, here, if Genius immediately takes his three hearts tricks ending on the board and plays a diamond to his jack, he goes down. The talented player cashes his diamond ace first, just in case West started with a singleton queen. You never know!