The sig­nals tell the de­fen­sive story

Cecil Whig - - COMICS & PUZZLES - By Phillip Alder

Sir Win­ston Churchill said, “The states­man who yields to war fever must re­al­ize that once the sig­nal is given, he is no longer the mas­ter of pol­icy but the slave of un­fore­see­able and un­con­trol­lable events.” The de­fend­ers, dur­ing the war at the bridge ta­ble, must sig­nal and hope that each will be in­ter­preted cor­rectly. This deal came from a reader who re­quested anonymity. First, what should North re­bid over part­ner’s one spade? Sec­ond, how should the de­fend­ers play as­sum­ing South is in four spades, and West leads the di­a­mond ace?

In the bid­ding, first, I agree with North’s re­spond­ing one di­a­mond, not one heart. His hand has good po­ten­tial for a di­a­mond con­tract, and South can eas­ily show a four­card ma­jor. Sec­ond, I think North should re­bid four spades. It is a slight over­bid, but it pays to push for game. (If you em­ploy splin­ter bids, North should not re­bid four clubs, be­cause he has far too many red-suit losers.) With four trumps, you rarely look for a ruff. But here, af­ter East sig­naled with the di­a­mond two at trick one, West shifted to his sin­gle­ton heart. ( Yes, a club switch would have been best, but that was nearly im­pos­si­ble to find.) East won and care­fully re­turned the heart five, his low­est heart be­ing a suit­pref­er­ence sig­nal for clubs. At the ta­ble, West ruffed and tried to cash the di­a­mond king. South ruffed, drew trumps, and coasted home.

West erred. If East had started with a sin­gle­ton di­a­mond, he would have led his high­est heart at trick three.

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