Both sides can make good plays

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

One of Joni Mitchell’s best-known songs is “Both Sides Now.” It in­cludes this verse: “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now / From up and down, and still some­how / It’s cloud il­lu­sions I re­call / I re­ally don’t know clouds at all.”

Bridge play­ers look at the deck from up and down, and ex­perts re­ally do know cards. In today’s deal, both sides now have a chance to make good plays. What is West’s best lead against four hearts? What hap­pens if West starts with a low spade?

Over North’s text­book gamein­vi­ta­tional limit raise, if East had made an ag­gres­sive take­out dou­ble (es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the ad­verse vul­ner­a­bil­ity), maybe West would have bid four spades over four hearts. Note that this goes down only one, which is a good sac­ri­fice un­less four hearts can be de­feated.

If West leads a low club, East can win the trick with his jack and shift to a spade to beat the con­tract. The de­fend­ers can take one spade, one di­a­mond and two clubs.

Af­ter a low-spade lead, though, de­clarer can come out ahead. At the first trick, East should play his 10. He knows West would not un­der­lead the ace, and by play­ing the 10, he finds out who has the queen.

Sup­pose South takes the trick, draws trumps, and runs the di­a­mond eight. East can win with the king and lead the spade five to West’s queen. Then a club shift would give the de­fend­ers four tricks. How­ever, South should see that he has 10 win­ners via one spade, six hearts and three di­a­monds. He can fail only if West re­gains the lead. So, by duck­ing at trick one, he is safe.

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