Do not match a speedy declarer
Traffic is going at a steady 65 mph on an interstate. You are coming up the entry ramp. What is your ideal speed when you reach the top of the ramp?
Right — 65. So why do many drivers try to merge at 50 or 55? It increases the risk of an accident.
At the bridge table, though, if you are playing against a speedy opponent, do not try to match him. Take your time; do not be rushed into a mistake. In this deal, for example, how should East plan the defense against three no-trump after West leads the spade nine, and South immediately calls for dummy’s singleton?
South has a normal-looking two-no-trump opening, although his ace-king count is high. If you take two points for an ace and one for a king, the opener will normally have seven points; this hand has eight, which is the usual number for a two-club opening followed by a two-no-trump rebid. But it would be quite some upgrade to open two clubs.
After North’s thin raise to game, East might have risked a double, which would have said that he had a solid suit and hoped partner could find it. Typically, though, this would have been a major suit because the responder had not used Stayman or a transfer. However, here, West might have led a club on the shortest-suit principle — partner’s longest suit will be my shortest.
What is a nine lead? Top of nothing. So East should know that South has the spade A-Q-J10. Then, playing the king gives declarer four spade tricks and nine in all. But if East ignores third hand high and calmly plays the spade three, declarer cannot find a ninth trick.