IF DECLARER SLIPS, MAKE HIM PAY
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”
A slip of a card may cost you a contract, whether you are the declarer or a defender. It is important, of course, that when an opponent slips, you make him pay. Do not slide also and give him a chance to regain his footing.
In this deal, how should South plan the play in three no-trump after West leads the club 10?
That South hand, despite its 19 points, is close to a two-notrump opening because it has seven ace-king points (two for each ace and one for each king). But the weak doubleton club suggests taking the low road.
South starts with seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one club (at trick one). By far the best chance for two more winners is to play on diamonds. After taking the first trick with the club jack, South should cash the diamond ace. Here, when West plays low, declarer continues with the king. When everyone follows, declarer plays a third round, and he might well end up with an overtrick. This play has an a priori 92.4 percent chance of success. (If West plays the diamond nine or 10 on the first round, South should next lead a low diamond toward dummy’s jack.)
At the table in a social game, South slipped: He crossed to dummy with a spade at trick two, then played a heart to his jack. West defended accurately by taking the trick and leading a second low club to keep communication with his partner. Now the contract was over.