The winning play is hard to highlight
Doug Larson, a newspaper columnist and editor, wrote, “What some people mistake for the high cost of living is really the cost of high living.” Today’s deal was played in a money game with the fairly high stake of 25 cents per point. What happened in three no-trump after West led his fourth-highest spade? The auction was straightforward. Yes, North would have preferred a fourth heart for his takeout double, but his hand was too strong to pass. Then South’s advance of three no-trump promised 13-15 points with spades well held.
When the dummy came down, declarer saw 26 points between his hand and the dummy’s. Maybe East had a jack or two, but West had to have the three missing aces.
South made the normal-looking play of running the opening lead around to his holding, taking East’s eight with his 10. He then led a low diamond, but West won with his ace, cashed the spade ace and continued with the spade jack. Declarer took eight tricks (two spades, three diamonds and three clubs), but as soon as he tried to establish a heart winner, West won that trick and cashed his spades. Down one cost $25. North was not amused. He had noticed that if South had played second hand high, winning the first trick with dummy’s spade king, the contract would have made. Declarer would then play a diamond to his queen. West wins with his ace, but cannot continue spades without conceding two more tricks in the suit. Whatever he does, South has time to drive out the heart ace to claim plus 600 and $150.