Try not to slip up early in the play

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Three o’clock is al­ways too late or too early for any­thing you want to do.” I sup­pose that’s right. It is too late for a nap, too early for a glass of wine -- ah, it is not too late to buy or sell shares in the stock mar­ket, un­less you are in the Moun­tain or Pa­cific time zone. At the bridge ta­ble, though, trick one, two or three can be too late to save your con­tract. In this deal, how should South play in three spades after West leads a low heart? When faced with a 12-point open­ing, check your re­bids. Here, South can pass one no-trump (or re­bid two clubs, if us­ing one-notrump forc­ing), raise two clubs or two di­a­monds, and re­bid two notrump over two hearts (keep­ing his fin­gers crossed!). How­ever, after North made a game-in­vi­ta­tional limit raise, South had an easy pass. When the dummy comes down, de­clarer should see five pos­si­ble losers: one spade, one heart, one di­a­mond and two clubs. How might that num­ber be re­duced by one? An ob­vi­ous pos­si­bil­ity is a win­ning heart fi­nesse, which tempted the orig­i­nal de­clarer. How­ever, East won dummy’s queen with his king and shifted to the di­a­mond queen. Now the con­tract had to fail.

South could have won the race by tak­ing trick one with the heart ace and lead­ing the club queen. Sup­pose West wins that trick and leads his heart jack to the queen and king, then East shifts to the di­a­mond queen. South wins and plays an­other club. When he takes the sec­ond di­a­mond, he dis­cards dummy’s last di­a­mond on his high club and drives out the spade ace. Take early care of losers.

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