Try to sig­nal with an honor

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

As we all know, de­fense is the hard­est part of the game. You sig­nal care­fully to part­ner, but is he watch­ing? By far the clear­est sig­nals, the ones that even inat­ten­tive part­ners won’t miss, are with honor card: an ace (prefer­ably), king, queen or jack.

Given that un­sub­tle hint, in this deal, West leads the heart ace against four spades. What hap­pens after that?

North makes a game-in­vi­ta­tional limit raise guar­an­tee­ing at least four-card sup­port, and South nudges up one level with reser­va­tions, but a vul­ner­a­ble game bonus is a pow­er­ful lure.

At trick one, East should drop the heart jack, top of touch­ing hon­ors when one can­not win the trick be­cause some­one else has al­ready played a higher card in the suit. This play de­nies hold­ing the heart queen. True, it doesn’t give West any count in the suit; it is co­in­ci­den­tal that East has an even num­ber of hearts. What does West do next?

If South has queen-dou­ble­ton of hearts, it would be safe for West im­me­di­ately to cash the king. How­ever, here, if West does that, the con­tract makes. De­clarer loses only two hearts and one club. Also, South won’t be able to dis­card his heart queen ex­cept in the very un­likely lay­out where he has a sin­gle­ton club king.

So, at trick two, West should shift. Then, when East gets in with the club king, he re­turns the heart nine or 10, snap­ping up four tricks — three hearts and one club — for the de­fense.

East’s play­ing the heart seven would be dan­ger­ous, West per­haps think­ing it is from Q-7-x.

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