Bridge

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

THE UN­USUAL PLAY IS AL­WAYS HARD TO SPOT

Ralph Waldo Emer­son said, “The fool­ish man won­ders at the un­usual, but the wise man at the usual.”

Not at the bridge ta­ble! There, the wise man won­ders about the usual and the un­usual. It is true that most deals fit the usual pat­tern, but ev­ery now and then, one comes along that re­quires an un­usual bid or play. That is when we sep­a­rate the good play­ers from the less imag­i­na­tive.

How is that ap­pli­ca­ble to this deal? South is in three no-trump, and West leads the heart queen.

To­day’s South hand, with its 17 points, good five-card suit, two aces and two kings, is too strong for a 15-17 no-trump.

In three no-trump, South has seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts, one di­a­mond and two clubs. Ob­vi­ously he plans to get the other two win­ners (at least) from his di­a­mond suit. But sup­pose he makes the usual play here: He wins the first trick with dummy’s heart king and plays a di­a­mond to his queen. West wins with the king and leads an­other heart. South takes that and cashes the di­a­mond ace, be­ing hor­ri­fied to see West dis­card a club or spade. Sud­denly the con­tract is un­mak­able.

South could af­ford one di­a­mond loser, but not two. He should take the first trick and make the un­usual play of cash­ing the di­a­mond ace. Here, the king comes tum­bling down, so South can con­tinue di­a­monds to gain an over­trick. But if the king does not ap­pear, de­clarer crosses to dummy and plays a di­a­mond to­ward his hand. As long as West does not have king-fourth or -fifth, the con­tract is se­cure.

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