The rule works in suits also

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Sa­muel Lover, an An­glo-Ir­ish novelist, song­writer and painter who died in 1868, said, “Cir­cum­stances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the in­stru­ments of the wise.”

That is so true. In to­day’s deal, a wise de­clarer can ben­e­fit from ap­ply­ing per­haps the only bridge “rule” that al­ways works. What is the rule, and why might South not cap­i­tal­ize on it? He is in four spades, and West leads a fourth-high­est di­a­mond seven. As a sec­ondary is­sue, what were West’s more suc­cess­ful open­ing leads?

First, South sees five po­ten­tial losers: two di­a­monds and three clubs. He has only eight win­ners: five spades and three hearts. So, he needs ei­ther one trick in each mi­nor (West has the club ace) or two di­a­monds.

Many de­clar­ers, know­ing that West would not be un­der­lead­ing (lead­ing away from) the di­a­mond ace against a suit con­tract, will im­me­di­ately play dummy’s jack. Here, though, af­ter East takes the trick with his ace, he can re­turn any card but a club to de­feat the con­tract.

As­sum­ing West’s lead is fourth­high­est, the Rule of Eleven must work. Yes, it is much more com­monly used in no-trump con­tracts, but it ap­plies in suits as well. Seven from 11 is four. Since South can see three di­a­monds higher than the seven (dummy’s king-jack and his nine), he knows East has only one di­a­mond higher than the seven, which must be the ace. So de­clarer should play dummy’s three at trick one. Then he can get two di­a­mond tricks to make his con­tract. At dou­ble dummy, West had only two los­ing open­ing leads: his low di­a­monds.

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