TWO GOOD PLAYS AND ONE HAPPY SIDE
Artemus Ward, a 19th-century humorist, said, “Let us all be happy, and live within our means, even if we have to borrow the money to do it with.”
Bridge players are happy with plus scores, even if occasionally they have to “borrow” tricks from opponents’ mistakes. In today’s deal, though, both East and South have chances to make good plays. What are they? South is in four spades, and West leads his fourth-highest heart. Also, what was West’s more effective lead?
The North hand has eight losers (three spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one club), perfect for a game-invitational raise. But change the spade jack to the spade queen, and that lowers the loser count to seven and -- just -- makes the hand worth a forcing raise.
South has 10 winners: six spades, one heart and three clubs. But he might lose one heart, two diamonds and one club, if the club finesse loses, and West can push a diamond through dummy’s king, with East holding the ace. South must keep West off the lead.
East, knowing his partner is not underleading the ace, should play his heart 10 at trick one, to find out who holds the heart queen.
If South takes that trick, he goes down. The play continues: draw trumps, take a losing club finesse, low-heart lead to West’s queen, diamond shift.
However, if South plays low from his hand at trick one, he is safe.
Lastly, suppose West had led a diamond. Then, if East had won with his 10 and shifted to a heart, four spades would have failed. Nevertheless, it is usually better to lead from shorter suits against trump contracts.