What is the danger; where is the safety?
By Phillip Alder I am confident that you have heard the line: “Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.” But from which of Shakespeare’s plays does it come?
At the bridge table, part of the art of being a successful player is spotting both the danger to your contract and the safe route around that threat.
How does that apply in today’s deal? South is in five spades doubled, and West leads the diamond two. What happens next?
West might have opened four hearts, but that would have risked missing a slam if partner had a decent hand. After East responded one no-trump, South jumped to four spades, of course. Then West felt obliged to bid five hearts. However, when South continued with five spades, West aggressively doubled. Clearly, West’s lead is a singleton, under which East should play his three as a suit-preference signal for clubs. (Since he has no reason to play third hand high and count in the suit is irrelevant, he can signal suit preference.)
If South immediately attacks trumps, West will win with his ace, play a club to his partner’s king and receive a diamond ruff to defeat the contract.
South must cut the defensive communication lines. He takes the first trick on the board, leads the heart king and discards his club. He loses only one heart and one spade. I discovered that Hotspur spoke that Shakespearean line in Henry IV part 1, act 2, scene 3.