Can south sur­vive the heart at­tack?

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

I am writ­ing this col­umn straight af­ter Roger Fed­erer lost to Mi­los Raonic in the semi­fi­nal of Wim­ble­don last month. Fed­erer was an­other com­men­ta­tor vic­tim. At 5-6 in the fourth set, Fed­erer was ahead 40-0. A com­men­ta­tor said that this was just what Fed­erer wanted, an easy ser­vice game to get into the tiebreaker. A cou­ple of min­utes later, Raonic had won the game and set, then he ran away with the fifth set. By now, you would think com­men­ta­tors would know not to make an ob­ser­va­tion like that.

In to­day’s deal, one an­a­lyst said that six spades could be made if West leads the di­a­mond queen, but not if he chooses the heart eight. Is that cor­rect? When North replied five hearts to South’s Black­wood in­quiry, East made a lead-di­rect­ing dou­ble.

If East had not dou­bled, West would surely have led the di­a­mond queen, which would have given South an easy run. He would have taken the trick, drawn trumps, and run the club queen. The fi­nesse would have lost, but de­clarer would have had the rest of the tricks. It does seem as though the heart lead is fa­tal, but not if South plays care­fully. He wins East’s heart queen with his ace, draws trumps, cashes his di­a­mond ace, plays a di­a­mond to dummy’s king, and ruffs the last di­a­mond on his hand. Then he ex­its with his re­main­ing heart. East takes the trick but is end­played, hav­ing ei­ther to lead away from the club king or to con­cede a ruff-and-sluff (on which South dis­cards a club).

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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