Optimism often leads to disappointment
Letitia Landon, a 19th-century English poet and novelist, wrote, “How disappointment tracks the steps of hope!”
All bridge players have had to suffer disappointing results. But in some cases, the loss was selfinflicted, declarer being unduly optimistic and running into an unfavorable distribution of the cards, one that would not have been fatal to the contract if he had played more carefully.
In today’s deal, South is in five clubs. What should he do after West leads the heart queen, taken by dummy’s king? As a secondary issue, how would three no-trump have fared?
An inexperienced player would have bid three no-trump with that North hand and been very disappointed when West knew enough to duck the first round of clubs and restrict declarer to a pair of club tricks. If South has seven winners, as his pre-empt at unfavorable vulnerability suggests, North has the four tricks that justify leaping to five clubs. Declarer should see that he has three potential losers in his hand: one spade, one heart and one club. He has only 10 top tricks: two hearts, two diamonds and six clubs.
An optimist would run the club nine at trick two. However, if West is in midseason form, he will take the trick and return a trump to kill the contract.
South must ruff his heart loser on the board. He should cash the heart ace, then exit with a spade to open up a communication line to his hand. East does best to take the trick and shift to his trump, but declarer wins with his ace, trumps his last heart, ruffs a spade in hand and sets about drawing trumps.