HOW LONG TO MAKE THIS GAME CONTRACT?
Hesiod, a Greek poet who died around 650 B.C., said, “Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.”
Hear, hear! That has been our theme this week. To end, a deal that requires impeccable timing for declarer to make his contract.
South is in four spades. West leads the heart king. What should declarer do?
North’s two-spade raise is no thing of beauty, but with three trumps, an ace and a doubleton, it is the right response. (Note that if you employ two-over-one and a forcing one-no-trump response, when having three-card major-suit support, you should go via one notrump only with an even weaker hand than this and typically 4-33-3 distribution.) South, because his hand is balanced, is thin for a jump to game, but it pays to be aggressive, especially when vulnerable.
First, South must assume trumps are 3-2. Even then, he is faced with four losers in his hand: one spade, two hearts and one diamond. He must aim to ruff his third heart in the dummy -- but how?
Suppose declarer wins the first trick and returns a heart. Here, West can play a third heart, and East will overruff the dummy. Then East can put West in with the diamond ace and ruff the next heart, effecting an uppercut that produces down two.
The secret is to duck the first trick, win the heart-queen continuation, cash two top trumps, and only then ruff South’s last heart. Even if East could overruff, it would be with his trump trick.