More point­ers for plays on points

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - BY PHILLIP ALDER

Napoleon Hill, a self-help au­thor who died in 1970, said, “Strong, deeply rooted de­sire is the start­ing point of all achieve­ment.”

That is so true. You have to want to im­prove. At the bridge ta­ble, for ex­am­ple, ev­ery­one can count, but only good play­ers do it a lot. Check­ing top tricks in a no-trump con­tract or losers in a suit con­tract is not dif­fi­cult or time-con­sum­ing. Do­ing only that would im­prove many play­ers’ re­sults. This week, though, we are tak­ing the next step up the achieve­ment lad­der by work­ing out how to make a con­tract by track­ing the high-card points held by the de­fend­ers.

In to­day’s ex­am­ple, South is in four hearts. West starts the de­fense with his three top spades. Af­ter ruff­ing the third, how should South con­tinue?

Note North’s re­sponse over West’s take­out dou­ble. Two notrump, the Tr­us­cott con­ven­tion, showed a max­i­mum pass with at least four-card heart sup­port. In­stead, if North had jumped to three hearts, that would have been pre-emp­tive: a weak hand with four trumps. Re­mem­ber, two no-trump was not needed in a nat­u­ral sense, be­cause North would have started with re­dou­ble to show 10 points or more.

South can af­ford to lose only one club trick. But does West have the queen or ace?

The key is West’s ini­tial pass as dealer. He has al­ready pro­duced nine points in spades. If he had the club ace, he would have opened the bid­ding. So, South should draw trumps, then play a club to dummy’s jack. If that loses to the queen, the con­tract was un­mak­able.

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