Con­tract Bridge

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker

The bid­ding tells the tale

As­sume you’re East, de­fend­ing against four hearts reached in the man­ner shown.

Part­ner leads a diamond, which you win with the ace, and you re­turn a diamond to part­ner’s king. Part­ner con­tin­ues with the jack, and de­clarer ruffs.

South leads a low heart to dummy’s jack, and it is at this point that the out­come hangs in the bal­ance. If you take the ace, de­clarer makes the con­tract; if you duck, he goes down one.

Let’s say you win the jack with the ace, as most play­ers would do. If you re­turn a diamond, de­clarer ruffs in dummy and scores the rest of the tricks; if you re­turn any­thing else, de­clarer like­wise takes the rest.

Now let’s as­sume you duck the jack of hearts, as you should. What can South then do to make the con­tract? If he leads an­other trump, you win with the ace and re­turn your last diamond. If de­clarer ruffs, he will only have one trump left to West’s two and must go down one. If South dis­cards on the fourth diamond, he goes down that much sooner.

How can you tell that duck­ing the jack of hearts is the right play? Well, you can’t be cer­tain it will beat the con­tract, but all the ev­i­dence points in that di­rec­tion.

The main clue lies in the bid­ding. South is un­likely to have six hearts, be­cause he would be more in­clined to re­bid a six-card ma­jor suit at his sec­ond turn than name a mi­nor suit.

Once you credit South with only five hearts — which means West has four — you are sure to beat the con­tract by re­fus­ing to win the first heart.

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