The straight path to the contract
One of the least well-known tracks on Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” album is “The Narrow Way.” On many bridge deals, there is a narrow way to make or break the contract. In today’s deal, for example, how should South play in four hearts after West leads the diamond three?
South opened with a modern weak two-bid — although, to be honest, nowadays many tournament trailblazers would open three hearts, given the favorable vulnerability.
West did not have many points, but had too good a spade suit to pass. (Remember, a jump overcall of three spades would have been constructive, promising some 14-16 points — no weak jumps over an opposing pre-empt.) North jumped to four hearts, unsure what to do if East bid four spades — but that never happened. East made a cautious and costly pass. Four spades looked almost certain to be made with the favorable position of both minor suits, but in a 16-table duplicate, only one player was in four spades. North led the heart king. South overtook with the ace and shifted to his singleton diamond. Declarer took North’s jack with dummy’s ace, then fatally ran the spade jack. North won, cashed the club ace and diamond king, then gave partner a ruff for down two. (Yes, it should have been down three.)
In four hearts, South has six potential losers: three spades, one diamond and two clubs. First, she guessed diamonds perfectly — and vitally — by playing dummy’s jack. East won and returned the diamond deuce. Declarer carefully discarded a club, won on the board and conceded a spade. Then she drew trumps and ruffed two spade losers to get home.