Trade one trick for a dozen
Malcolm Forbes, who was an enthusiastic bridge player, said, “If you don’t know what to do with many of the papers piled on your desk, stick a dozen colleagues’ initials on ‘em, and pass them along. When in doubt, route.” We have a dozen in bridge -- the number of tricks needed to make a small slam. It is easy to lose today’s contract under a pile of bad breaks. How should South play in six spades after West leads the diamond three?
North’s four-club rebid was a splinter, showing spade support, at least game-going values and a singleton (or void) in clubs. When South control-bid his heart ace, North used Blackwood. South made short work of going down. He won the first trick with his diamond 10 (the honor from the shorter side first), cashed his spade ace, and played a spade to dummy’s queen. When East discarded a diamond, South stopped in his tracks. However, thinking was now too late; the contract could not be made. He tried to cash the diamond ace, but West ruffed and returned his last trump. Declarer had to lose a heart or a club at the end.
West’s lead was surely a singleton. So, East had to be kept off lead. Also, in case there was a bad spade split, South should have played a club to dummy’s ace, then run the spade nine. West would have won and led a high club, but declarer could have ruffed with dummy’s spade queen, drawn trumps, and claimed four spades, one heart, five diamonds, one club and the club ruff.