Is the key card onside or off?
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.