A tough play for declarer to make
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.