Use an early pass to place a key card

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

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.

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