An­other weird play that is nec­es­sary

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Hunter S. Thomp­son, who founded the gonzo jour­nal­ism move­ment, said, “When the go­ing gets weird, the weird turn pro.” At the bridge ta­ble, if a weird play is needed, one might think that a pro is most likely to spot it. How­ever, that does not mean a lessskill­ful player will miss it. Mak­ing three no-trump in this deal does re­quire a strange-look­ing play, but any­one who has met this guide­line be­fore should clear the hur­dle. Af­ter West leads his fourth-high­est heart, and East puts up the jack, what should de­clarer do?

De­clarer starts with seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts (given trick one) and three di­a­monds. Ob­vi­ously, he will at­tack clubs for the ex­tra win­ners, and if West has that queen, over­tricks are go­ing to roll in. But if East has the club queen and West the ace, the contract is in some jeop­ardy.

Sup­pose South takes the first trick and runs the club 10. East wins with his queen and re­turns his re­main­ing heart, which es­tab­lishes West’s suit while he, West, has the club ace as an en­try.

As de­clarer might lose the lead twice be­fore be­ing able to run for home, the crit­i­cal play is to duck at trick one -- let East take the trick. East will lead his sec­ond heart, but South can win that trick and at­tack clubs. Then, when East is in with his queen, he will not have an­other heart to lead; or, if he does, the suit is split­ting 4-3, and de­clarer will lose only two hearts and two clubs. With two stop­pers in the suit led and two high cards to dis­lodge, it is al­most al­ways right to duck the first trick.

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