PASS THE BATON, PASS THE CONTRACT
Oscar Wilde wrote, "I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."
These days, every bridge player tries to find a reason, however thin, not to pass. Occasionally, though, a pass passes on valuable information -- as in this deal. How should South play in four hearts? West leads the diamond 10. East wins the first trick with his queen, cashes the diamond ace, and shifts to the club two. (What was East's stronger defense?)
In the auction, North's twono-trump response was the Jacoby Forcing Raise: four-plus trumps, at least game-forcing values and, usually, no singleton or void. (Otherwise, he would have made a splinter bid.) South, with a minimum and no shortage either, jumped to four hearts.
South has to play the trump suit without loss. This would normally involve taking a finesse. A priori, the chance that East has the king is 50 percent and West a singleton king only about 6.25 percent. But sometimes those numbers are worthless.
South would like to know who holds the spade ace. He should lead a spade, taking a slight risk that East will get a club ruff. Here, East produces the ace. Then South should know that West must have the heart king. If East had that card -- and a total of 13 high-card points -- he would have opened the bidding. Declarer should play a heart to his ace.
East would have done better to shift to a trump at trick three, before South could find out who had the spade ace. Then surely declarer would have gone with the odds and taken the finesse.