It is difficult to break habits
Mark Twain said, “A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
A bridge habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the deck a trick at a time — maybe!
In this deal, West must avoid a habit that has held him in good stead for his bridge lifetime. South is in three notrump. West leads the spade four: five, seven, king. South cashes the diamond ace and diamond king, then leads a low heart. How should West analyze the deal?
South has a maximum 17 points, but those pointed-suit holdings are not great. North just shoots for game with a combined 25-27 points.
Note East’s play at trick one. When you cannot play a nine or higher, give count. East played the seven, going high-low with a doubleton.
The first trick marked South with the top three spade honors. He then cashed the high diamonds, advertising a total of 16 points. West should also check declarer’s winners. He is known to have three spades and five diamonds. So, if he takes trick four on the board, he will run for home.
West must not follow second hand low; he must win this trick and cash the club king. Then, although East is forced to play a discouraging two, West must continue with his second club. Here, the defenders take one heart and four clubs to defeat the contract.
Defenders try to play in tempo, so as not to help declarer. Here, though, with king-queen-doubleton on the board, it would be a good idea for West to pause at trick four and work things out.
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