BRIDGE AND CHESS
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I was asked this question: What is the one thing you teach your students that they never seem to get and you cannot understand why? My answer is the theme of this column.
South is in four spades. West guesses well to lead the club two. How should the defenders card to defeat the contract?
Over West’s takeout double, North applied the main conclusion from the Law of Total Tricks, jumping to four spades because he knew of a 10-card fit.
West might have led the spade ace, planning to exit with a diamond in the hope that his four honor cards would all win tricks. Here, though, that would not have worked.
When West leads a low club, which card should East contribute?
East is playing third hand high; his card might even win the trick. In this situation, East must play the bottom of his touching cards: the jack.
When South takes the trick with the ace, West knows his partner has the club queen. So, when South next plays a trump, West can win and continue with a second low club to give his partner the lead.
Then, with luck, East will shift to the heart nine (the high card denying an honor in the suit), and West will take two tricks in that suit to defeat the contract.
East should not lead to a diamond, because if West has a winner there, it isn’t going to disappear. But a heart trick might — and will — evaporate.
Finally, if declarer ducks the first trick, East should immediately switch to the heart nine. West’s lead marks South with the club ace, so returning that suit would be a waste of time.