The honor giveth and taketh away

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

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)?

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