The honor giveth and taketh away
Tom Rath, an author, said, “Making better choices takes work. There is a daily give and take, but it is worth the effort.”
Making better bids and plays takes work, but it is worth the effort. In today’s deal, how should South play in four hearts after winning the first trick with his diamond ace?
In the auction, North’s three-club rebid was a double negative, warning of a very weak hand. Then, if South had continued with three hearts, it would have been nonforcing; so he jumped to game. Declarer has four potential losers: one heart and three clubs. Maybe the heart king is a singleton (about a 12.5 percent shot); or perhaps he can ruff his third club on the board. Since the stiff king is unlikely, going for the ruff is preferable. Here, though, if East wins the first club trick and shifts to a heart, which he surely would do, then South will have to finesse. Yes, that improves the chance of having no heart loser because East will hold king-doubleton some 20 percent of the time, but with this layout, the contract will fail. West will win with the heart king and return a trump. Declarer should try to give West the lead, potentially making a trump shift expensive. At trick two, South should lead the club king from his hand. Here, West wins and may switch to a trump, but declarer wins cheaply, gives up another club, and is home. If West wins and leads a second trump, he loses his heart trick.
South will have a guess only if East wins the second club and leads another trump. Did he start with two low (South must win with his ace) or king-third (South must finesse)?