The fi­nal con­tract con­trols the lead

The Hamilton Spectator - - FUN & GAMES - by Phillip Alder

Ma­hatma Gandhi said, “The con­trol of the palate is a valu­able aid for the con­trol of the mind.”

Bridge is a fas­ci­nat­ing game. In to­day’s deal, for ex­am­ple, the fi­nal con­tract will con­trol West’s mind on open­ing lead. Look at his hand. What would you lead against ei­ther four spades or six spades?

The auc­tion is not clear-cut. Over one spade, West might have bid four di­a­monds, but he pulled his belt in one notch be­cause of the pre­vail­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Then North might have set­tled for the safe game when his part­ner showed no en­thu­si­asm over the game-forc­ing cue-bid. How­ever, he used Ro­man Key Card Black­wood to learn first that his part­ner had one ace, then the spade queen and the heart king.

Against four spades, West would surely have led the club two, hop­ing to get a ruff. South would have had no trou­ble tak­ing 12 tricks.

Against six spades, though, be­cause West knows his part­ner can­not have an ace, that club lead would be crazy. He should choose the di­a­mond king. De­clarer takes that with dummy’s ace and plays a trump. West wins and tries to cash the di­a­mond queen, but South ruffs, draws trumps and has to find the club queen. What should he do?

First, he should cash his last trump and the heart tricks. He will learn that West started with 2=3=7=1 or 2=3=6=2 dis­tri­bu­tion (or maybe 2=4=6=1 or 2=4=7=0). South cashes dummy’s club king, then leads an­other club. I think fi­ness­ing is just the fa­vorite, but per­haps I am in­flu­enced by know­ing the deal.

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