ONE PROBLEM MAY NEED TWO SOLUTIONS
Mike Murdock, a televangelist, said, “You will only be remembered for two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create.”
Even better for a bridge player is to solve the problems that are presented, not to create them. In today’s deal, South is in six spades. What should he do after West leads a low heart?
North’s two-no-trump response was the Jacoby Forcing Raise, guaranteeing at least four-card support and game-going values. South’s three-no-trump rebid indicated a middling hand (usually 14-16 points) with no side-suit singleton or void. Four clubs and four diamonds were control-bids showing those aces.
The North-South hands have mirror distribution: Each is 5-2-42. This is usually bad news because it means there will be no discards or extra trump tricks from ruffing. So, at first glance, declarer needs either the heart or club finesse to work. Is there another possibility?
The obvious approach is to try each round-suit finesse. However, not many defenders would lead away from the heart king. It is true that North showed interest in a grand slam, so an aggressive opening lead is feasible. But against most players, South should win with dummy’s heart ace, draw trumps, cash the diamond winners, and cast adrift with a heart.
If East takes the trick, he must either lead into dummy’s club ace-queen or concede a ruff-andsluff. At the worst, West wins and shifts to a club. Now declarer has to finesse. If that loses, he should congratulate West on a great opening lead.