Which suit should part­ner lead to you?

The Hamilton Spectator - - FUN & GAMES - by Phillip Alder

Ann Richards, the 45th Gover­nor of Texas, who died in 2006, said, “I have very strong feel­ings about how you lead your life. You al­ways look ahead, you never look back.”

At the bridge ta­ble, the previous tricks can­not be changed, but they in­flu­ence tricks still to come. In this deal, for ex­am­ple, South is in four spades. West leads the heart ace. What hap­pens af­ter that?

South has a text­book three-spade open­ing, show­ing a good seven-card suit and 5-10 high-card points.

North’s raise is thin, but it is worth gam­bling for a vul­ner­a­ble game.

At trick one, East must play the heart nine, start­ing a high-low (echo) with his dou­ble­ton. West cashes the heart queen and con­tin­ues with the heart king. What should East dis­card?

As­sum­ing the third heart is stand­ing up, South’s hand pre­sum­ably has one of these dis­tri­bu­tions: 7-3-2-1, 7-3-1-2, 7-3-3-0 or 7-3-0-3. In the first three cases, East wants his part­ner to shift to a di­a­mond at trick four, not to a club. (Yes, if West has ex­actly queen-dou­ble­ton of clubs, a club switch pro­duces down two, whereas a di­a­mond shift de­feats the con­tract by only one trick.) Any club tricks can wait, but the di­a­mond king needs to be es­tab­lished. So, East should dis­card the di­a­mond nine. He could throw the club four, but it is bet­ter to sig­nal with a high, en­cour­ag­ing card in the suit he would like part­ner to lead.

If West shifts to a di­a­mond at trick four, the con­tract fails. If, though, he leads a club, de­clarer loses that trick, but gets his di­a­mond loser away on the dummy’s club king.

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