Set up and run part­ner’s suit

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Marie Curie said, “There are sadis­tic sci­en­tists who hurry to hunt down er­rors in­stead of es­tab­lish­ing the truth.” In bridge ar­ti­cles, we of­ten try to es­tab­lish the truth by an­a­lyz­ing er­rors. Well, what er­ror would of­ten be made in this deal? South is in three no-trump, and West leads the spade queen. The auc­tions have been short and sweet this week, to­day’s be­ing the most com­mon of all. (Some years ago, I was in­volved in two of the rarest se­quences on back-to-back deals when the fi­nal con­tract on each was one club.) South starts with seven top tricks: two spades, three hearts and two clubs. He can es­tab­lish two more win­ners in di­a­monds, but risks los­ing the race if the de­fend­ers can first set up and run their spades. South ducks the first trick, takes the sec­ond with dummy’s spade ace, and leads a di­a­mond.

An East who is trained only to cover the last of touch­ing hon­ors, will play low. West can also duck the trick, but then South has two win­ning op­tions: Lead an­other di­a­mond, which would dis­lodge West’s en­try; or play three rounds of clubs, which would es­tab­lish a third win­ner there to go with two spades, three hearts and one di­a­mond.

East should re­mem­ber this key prin­ci­ple: In no-trump, when part­ner’s suit is one lead from be­ing estab­lished, and you have only one card left in his suit, do your ut­most to win the next de­fen­sive trick. East must play his di­a­mond king at trick three. If South has the ace, the king is dead any­way. Here, though, when the king wins, East leads his last spade, and the con­tract is de­feated.

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