Steer your contract down the right road
Joyce Cary, an English novelist who died in 1957, said, “The will is never free -- it is always attached to an object, a purpose. It is simply the engine in the car -- it can’t steer.”
When you are the declarer, you are steering your two hands toward the end of the road: the number of tricks needed to make the contract. How you steer the cards is, of course, usually critical. In today’s deal, South is in three no-trump. What do you think of the auction? West leads a fourth-highest spade five, East puts up the nine, and South wins with his king (top of touching honors from the closed hand). How should South drive from there?
The auction is sensible if NorthSouth do not use transfers into the minors. However, if they do, North should respond two spades, a transfer to clubs, and rebid three spades to show a singleton or void in that suit. South would presumably park in three no-trump. Note that five clubs can be made, but it requires good guesswork in the trump suit. South has seven top tricks: one spade (first trick), one heart, three diamonds, and two clubs. As at least three more tricks can come from clubs, it seems too easy. Is there a pothole in the road?
From the first trick, declarer should realize that West holds the spade ace. So, if East gets on lead, he will return a spade through South’s queen, and the contract will crash.
In order to keep East from winning a trick, declarer should play a diamond to dummy, then run the club jack through East. Here, the finesse wins, and declarer takes 11 tricks. But even if that finesse lost, South’s spade queen would be safe from attack, and the contract would coast home.