FRANK STEWART BRIDGE
My “Simple Saturday” columns focus on improving basic technique and developing logical thinking.
It’s true that technical knowledge and the ability to problem-solve are vital to bridge success. But so are inborn ability, partnership rapport, desire and — maybe most of all — concentration. Maintaining focus and playing to your level of ability constitute 75 percent of the game. Today’s West leads the deuce of hearts against four spades. Suppose South takes the ace and leads a trump. East wins and returns a heart for West to ruff, and the defenders take the high diamonds for down one.
South has taken his eye off the ball: The danger of a heart ruff is clear. If South is awake, he will win the first heart with dummy’s king and discard his ace on the ace of clubs. Then he can lead a trump and lose only three tricks in all.
When you’re at the table, keep your mind on the business at hand. You can’t play well if you’re thinking about where to go for dinner.
You hold: ♠ Q 4 ♥ K 10 7 6 3 ♦ 10 6 ♣ A8 7 4. Your partner opens one spade, you respond 1NT and he bids two hearts. What do you say?
Answer: What began as a “nine-point hand” has become huge. You have a useful queen in partner’s first suit, a fifth heart that will be a winner, and a side ace. Bid four hearts. Instead of counting points, imagine a possible minimum hand for partner: A J 5 3 2, A 9 5 4, A 3 2, 6. He will be a heavy favorite for at least 10 tricks.
North dealer Both sides vulnerable