Not only play one, but also play two
Deyth Banger, an English writer, said, “I want two things from you: First, answer ‘Why’ questions, and second, wait before you make your conclusion.” That isn’t a bad thought process for a bridge player. Why should you play one card rather than another? Before you choose, is there something better?
In this deal, South reaches our favorite contract, three no-trump. What should he do after West leads a fourth-highest spade five? In the auction, North’s two-club rebid was New Minor Forcing (recommended), asking opener for more information. South’s two-diamond continuation denied three-card heart support.
South can see eight top tricks: one spade (given the lead), three hearts, three diamonds and one club. If hearts are 3-3, declarer will have no worries. But if he must lose a heart trick, he might then concede too many spade tricks. The first key play is to put up dummy’s spade queen at trick one. If East can take the trick and return the suit, South ducks, wins the third spade, and works to keep West off the lead. Here, though, East plays low. Now declarer must try to stop East from winning a trick. South, rather than playing hearts from the top, should lead a low heart from the board and cover East’s card as cheaply as possible. Here, West takes declarer’s nine with his jack, but has no winning continuation. His best play is a club shift, but South wins with dummy’s ace, plays a heart to his king, returns to dummy with a diamond, and takes his nine winners: one spade, four hearts, three diamonds and one club.