Belleville News-Democrat - - Comics - By Bob­by­Wolff

He­len So­bel was one of the world’s best play­ers of her gen­er­a­tion. When she de­clared three no-trump here, West led the spade seven, his part­ner’s suit. So­bel made two win­ning plays at the first trick: She called for dummy’s 10, and then she ducked East’s queen.

Af­ter tak­ing the spade king con­tin­u­a­tion with the ace, she played the club queen. East took this with the king and played the spade nine, taken by So­bel’s jack, while dis­card­ing a heart from dummy. Then came the club 10. West won and could do no bet­ter than exit with a club, taken by the jack. The di­a­mond ace came next, then a di­a­mond to the queen, and the hand was over. So­bel had two tricks in each ma­jor, plus a club and four di­a­monds.

Note the sig­nif­i­cance of the play to the first trick. If de­clarer does not put up the spade 10, East cov­ers the seven with the eight. South must duck, or the spades will even­tu­ally be set up, as the de­fend­ers still have com­mu­ni­ca­tions in place in spades. Af­ter de­clarer ducks trick one, if the de­fend­ers are care­ful not to open up hearts, de­clarer can take no more than eight tricks.

But once de­clarer puts up the 10, it forces East to cover; oth­er­wise, de­clarer has a cheap trick while re­tain­ing two spade stop­pers. Now, by duck­ing, de­clarer has ef­fec­tively sev­ered the de­fend­ers’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the spade suit.

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