Steer part­ner with your cards

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Ben­jamin Spock said, “In au­to­mo­bile terms, the child sup­plies the power, but the par­ents have to do the steer­ing.”

In au­to­mo­bile terms, the bridge dealer sup­plies the cards, but the play­ers have to do the steer­ing; and of­ten one de­fender must steer his part­ner in the right di­rec­tion to de­feat a con­tract. In today’s deal, how should East set his GPS to tell part­ner how to beat four spades af­ter West leads the di­a­mond three, and South takes the trick with dummy’s ace? In the auc­tion, South judged that his hand was too strong for a weak jump over­call, de­spite the un­fa­vor­able vul­ner­a­bil­ity. (Dis­cuss his hand with your part­ner.) Then North plunged into game. He might have taken things slower by first cue-bid­ding two di­a­monds to show spade sup­port with at least game-in­vi­ta­tional strength, but he could not see how that would help, and the vul­ner­a­ble game bonus was a pow­er­ful lure.

When you have a se­quence of touch­ing hon­ors and can­not win the trick (be­cause ei­ther some­one has al­ready played a higher card than your best or you are dis­card­ing), you typ­i­cally play the top of your touch­ers -- here, the king. How­ever, if East does that, when West wins the next trick with his spade ace, he will lead a sec­ond di­a­mond. In­stead, East must give West an in­cor­rect sign­post by play­ing his di­a­mond queen. This in prin­ci­ple de­nies the king. So, when West is on lead, he will see no pur­pose in play­ing a sec­ond di­a­mond and will surely shift to a club -- ex­actly what East de­sires.

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