Bridge

PASS THE BA­TON, PASS THE CON­TRACT

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

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.

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