Daily Bridge Club
Pausing in the play
In the club lounge, my friend the English professor asked me if I knew the difference between a cat and a comma. I said I had no clue.
“A cat has claws at the end of its paws,” the prof explained blandly. “A comma is a pause at the end of a clause.”
South would do well to pause before he tackles today’s 3NT. When West leads a diamond, South must put up dummy’s ace. If the missing diamonds break 4-3 and West has two honors, declarer’s play is moot; the defense will set up three diamond winners. But if West has led from a five-card suit or from a four-carder with one honor, declarer can block the diamonds.
South next takes the A-K of clubs. If East-West followed, South could force out the ace of spades, winning four clubs, three spades, a diamond and a heart.
But when West discards a heart, South must pause again. To take nine tricks, he needs a second heart trick as well as three spades. West’s long diamonds are a threat. If West has two entries — both the ace of spades and king of hearts — South is sunk. But if West’s only entry is the king of hearts, South must force out that entry while the diamonds (he hopes) remain blocked. So South lets the queen of hearts ride next.
West wins and leads a second low diamond. He infers that East has the queen since declarer did not play low from dummy at Trick One. East wins and leads a club, and South takes dummy’s queen and forces out the ace of spades. East can cash his high club for the defenders’ book, but South has the rest. South dealer Neither side vulnerable