Do you sacrifice or go on defense?
Rita Mae Brown wrote, “For you to be successful, sacrifices must be made. It’s better that they are made by others, but failing that, you’ll have to make them yourself.”
One of the toughest bridge topics is judging when to sacrifice. East-West would have benefited in this deal, but it was not obvious.
When South balanced with a takeout double after West’s one-spade overcall, he was allowing for his partner’s having long and strong spades, which was the position here. Then East, realizing that one spade doubled would probably be expensive (it could be minus 500), ran to one no-trump, an example of the unusual no-trump, showing length in both minors. Maybe West should have jumped to three diamonds to indicate a suitable hand for diamonds. Then, if South got to four hearts, East probably would have sacrificed in five diamonds, which would have been down only two.
In the actual auction, North made a good raise to three hearts, and game was reached.
West led a trump. South should have drawn trumps immediately. Here, he would then have lost one diamond and two clubs, at some time playing a spade to dummy’s queen. But if West had started with four hearts, declarer would have known he needed to guess East’s singleton spade. If it were a low one, South needed to run the spade nine. But if East had the jack, declarer had to play a spade to the queen, then return a low spade to his eight, so that he could establish dummy’s spade suit.