Guess in the bid­ding, but not in the play

Cecil Whig - - & & - By

Phillip Alder On June 1, when win­ter has prob­a­bly re­ceded even in the far north of the United States, it seems ap­pro­pri­ate to quote David As­sael in a script for “North­ern Ex­po­sure.” He wrote, “Well, spring sprang. ... I guess it’s time to get back to that daily rou­tine of liv­ing we like to call nor­mal.” In bridge, you try never to guess, but some­times it is un­avoid­able. For ex­am­ple, look at the North hand. South shows a bal­anced hand with a good 22 to 24 points. Should North pass, raise to three no-trump, or hunt out a 4-4 heart fit by us­ing Stay­man? It would be cow­ardly to pass. It could be best to raise straight to three no-trump. If South does not have four hearts, North avoids giv­ing the de­fend­ers ex­tra in­for­ma­tion about South’s hand. Here, though, the de­fend­ers ought to take five spade tricks to de­feat three no-trump. So, let’s as­sume North steers South into four hearts.

West leads the spade king. East over­takes with his ace and re­turns the two. Af­ter West wins two more tricks in the suit, what should South do if West con­tin­ues with ei­ther a di­a­mond or an­other spade? South has 10 tricks (four hearts, four di­a­monds and two clubs) if he can draw trumps without loss. He must not over­look the power of his heart 10. He wins the di­a­mond shift, cashes the heart ace, and plays a heart to dummy’s king. When the bad split comes to light, de­clarer fi­nesses his heart 10, draws the last trump, and claims. If West per­se­veres with a fourth spade, South must ruff it low in the dummy.

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