A tough play for de­clarer to make

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - BY PHILLIP ALDER

Lynn John­ston, the Cana­dian car­toon­ist of “For Bet­ter or For Worse,” said, “The tough­est ques­tion has al­ways been, ‘How do you get your ideas?’ How do you answer that? It’s like ask­ing run­ners how they run, or singers how they sing. They just do it!”

Bridge ex­perts some­times seem to be just do­ing it, but they are count­ing win­ners and losers, and work­ing out how the play should progress.

In this deal, for ex­am­ple, how should South play in three no-trump af­ter West leads a fourth-high­est heart six, and East puts up the jack?

Here’s that same old, same old bor­ing auc­tion!

South starts with only five top tricks: two hearts (given trick one) and three di­a­monds. He can es­tab­lish five more win­ners in clubs and spades. How­ever, he will have to lose the lead twice, so is in dan­ger of con­ced­ing three hearts and those two aces.

In this sit­u­a­tion, the nor­mal rule is to duck the first trick. Note that this still leaves de­clarer with two heart stop­pers. East will re­turn his sec­ond heart, but South takes the trick and leads a club. Here, when East wins with his ace, he does not have an­other heart to play. But if he did, hearts would be break­ing 4-3 and de­clarer would lose only two hearts and two aces.

Yes, if South wins trick one and plays a spade, he will make the con­tract, but it would be nat­u­ral to start on the clubs. Then, though, East would win with the ace and re­turn his re­main­ing heart, es­tab­lish­ing West’s suit while he, West, still has the spade ace as an en­try.

It is right to win the first trick only when West has both of the black-suit aces.

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