You tell part­ner the suit to lead

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Henry Mor­gan, a hu­morist who died in 1994, said, “A klep­to­ma­niac is a per­son who helps him­self be­cause he can’t help him­self.” A bridge player is a per­son who helps his part­ner when he can­not make the key play him­self.

When­ever a good bridge player is on de­fense, he al­ways won­ders how he can make his part­ner’s life eas­ier. In this deal, for ex­am­ple, look at the North and East hands. Against four spades, West leads the club five. Af­ter East takes the trick with his ace, and South plays the 10, what should East do next?

North had 12 points with four­card spade sup­port. Most hands like that would have been worth a game-force, but not with eight losers and 4-3-3-3 dis­tri­bu­tion, when losers tend to stay losers for­ever. Third hand should al­ways an­a­lyze his part­ner’s lead. The club five is ei­ther low from length with at least one honor (per­haps K-9-5) or a sin­gle­ton. Whichever hold­ing West started with, it can­not hurt for East to re­turn a club. How­ever, just in case West can ruff at trick two, it is East’s job to tell his part­ner which suit to re­turn at trick three by send­ing a suit-pref­er­ence sig­nal. Since East’s win­ner is in hearts, the higher-rank­ing of the other two sidesuits, he should lead back the club jack, his high­est-re­main­ing card in the suit. Yes, West would prob­a­bly be able to read the seven, but East should make the po­si­tion as clear as pos­si­ble. (With the di­a­mond ace, East would re­turn the club four.) West ruffs, shifts to the heart 10, and gets a sec­ond ruff to de­feat the con­tract.

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