Is the key card on­side or off?

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - BY PHILLIP ALDER

Neal Asher, an English sci­ence fic­tion writer, said, “It wasn’t un­til I had been writ­ing on and off for maybe 10 years that I started to es­tab­lish any kind of rou­tine.”

A bridge ex­pert has a rou­tine, count­ing win­ners, losers and high-card points. Also, some­times he won­ders if a key card is on or off — on­side or off­side. Ideally, he can make his con­tract re­gard­less, but some­times that won’t be pos­si­ble. Then he needs to be op­ti­mistic or lucky, de­pend­ing on how one views these things.

In this deal, South is in four spades. West leads a low trump. East wins with the ace and does well, cash­ing the heart king and lead­ing a low heart to part­ner’s ace so that West can play a sec­ond round of trumps. How should de­clarer con­tinue?

In the bid­ding, South’s ones­pade re­bid showed a four-card suit and was forc­ing for one round. (A jump to two spades would have been fourth-suit game-forc­ing, deny­ing four spades.) When North raised spades, promis­ing four-card sup­port, South had an easy jump to game.

Fol­low­ing West’s ex­cel­lent lead, East’s demon de­fense stopped South from dis­card­ing a heart loser on dummy’s sec­ond high club.

Once de­clarer sees the 4-1 spade break, he should re­al­ize that he needs West to hold the di­a­mond king. Af­ter tak­ing trick four in his hand, South should cash the di­a­mond ace and run the di­a­mond queen. When that wins, he con­tin­ues with an­other di­a­mond, ruff­ing out West’s king. Then de­clarer can draw trumps end­ing in his hand and claim.

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