ACES ON BRIDGE
“Whoever is careless with truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”
— Albert Einstein
Today’s deal from the 2017 European Open Championships shows various declarers at work in a slam. You play six spades (after partner uses Blackwood while showing a club void) on the lead of the diamond three. Let’s have a look at what happened to a variety of careless declarers.
At the first table, declarer received the lead of the diamond three and immediately turned his attention to the trump suit by winning in dummy and calling for the spade 10.
That card held the trick, and declarer repeated the finesse. West won this time and played back a club, rather than finding the killing defense of returning a third spade. Twelve tricks claimed.
At a second table, West did find the play of a third trump. Declarer won in hand and ruffed a club to set up his 12th trick, but stood no chance to get back to his hand to pull that last trump! One down.
It would have been better when East discarded on the second round of trumps to go up with the ace, ruff a club and play a spade to the eight or jack. It then doesn’t matter when West wins his spade king — he is endplayed since he has the heart queen and is forced to help declarer get back to his hand.
This is vastly inferior to the correct line, however, which is embarrassingly easy — though apparently few declarers found it. Run the diamond lead to your hand and ruff a club, then finesse in spades.
Nothing can go wrong unless the cards are so hostile that you are booked for defeat no matter what you do.
ANSWER: A jump to four clubs now would show four-card spade support and serious extra values with a singleton or void in clubs, typically the former. The hand is certainly worth this call, so the question is whether you should bid on if partner signs off; I think not. Partner won’t have the diamond king, and if he had both top trumps and any sort of extra values, he would not sign off now.