Trade one trick for a dozen

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

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.

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