Guess in the bidding, but not in the play
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.