Which suit should you try first?

Cecil Whig - - COMICS & PUZZLES - By Phillip Alder

Jen­nifer Hud­son, a singer and ac­tress, said, “Ex­treme ex­er­cise doesn’t save you from poor food choices. It can be dif­fi­cult to ex­er­cise and erase away that cho­co­late cake or pizza pie. It doesn’t work that way.” In to­day’s deal, de­clarer faces a choice of side suit to at­tack first. Which should he select? South is in six hearts. West leads a trump from a low dou­ble­ton. East takes the trick and re­turns his re­main­ing spade. How should South con­tinue?

South opened with a weak twobid. North, trust­ing that his part­ner would have a good suit at the pre­vail­ing un­fa­vor­able vul­ner­a­bil­ity, jumped straight to six spades. This had the side ad­van­tage of keep­ing East out of the auc­tion.

South starts with 10 top tricks: five spades, three hearts and two clubs. It looks so ob­vi­ous to take the sec­ond trump, cash the heart queen (the honor from the shorter side first), and play a heart to dummy’s king. Here, though, when the suit splits 5-1, the con­tract is in tat­ters. It doesn’t work that way.

In­stead, de­clarer should play on clubs first. He takes dummy’s two tops. Are they 5-1? If so, South shifts to hearts, hop­ing for a 3-3 or 4-2 break. Here, though, ev­ery­one fol­lows suit. Now de­clarer ruffs a club (West dis­cards a di­a­mond), cashes his heart queen, plays a heart to the king, ruffs an­other club, re­turns to the dummy by ruff­ing a di­a­mond, and cashes both the last club and the heart ace. South takes five spades, three hearts, three clubs and the di­a­mond ruff.

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