Use an early pass to place a key card
Horace, the leading Latin lyric poet during the reign of Caesar Augustus and who died in 8 B.C., claimed, “As they pass, the years plunder us of one thing after another.” As they pass, the calls and tricks of a deal provide declarer with more and more information -- our topic this week.
In today’s deal, South ended in four spades. West cashed three top diamonds. East played highlow to show his doubleton, then discarded the heart king (top of touching honors as he was not winning the trick). West shifted to the heart nine. How should South have continued after taking this trick? Note South’s bid over East’s weak two-bid. Do not pre-empt against a pre-empt. Three spades was an intermediate jump overcall showing a good six-card or longer suit, some 15-17 high-card points and typically seven winners. West thought about sacrificing in five hearts, but was dissuaded by the unfavorable vulnerability. Still, although the contract could have gone down two (initial club lead, or the heart ace followed by a club shift), it would probably have escaped for down one (spade-ace lead ruffed and three rounds of diamonds for a club discard).
South had lost three diamond tricks, so had to find the club queen to get home. The key clue was West’s initial pass. He had shown up with 10 points in diamonds, so with the club queen surely would have opened the bidding. Declarer drew trumps, cashed dummy’s club ace, then finessed through East. Would you have opened with that West hand? Tune in tomorrow.