The Witness - - BRAINSTORM -

Most win­ning plays in

bridge are ar­rived at by sim­ple step-by-step rea­son­ing. While this process may be ap­plied at any time dur­ing the play,with­out ques­tion the most fre­quent oc­ca­sion for its use oc­curs at trick one. For a typ­i­cal il­lus­tra­tion, con­sider this deal where West leads a low heart against three notrump. East plays the queen, at which point de­clarer should take the time to an­a­lyse the sit­u­a­tion be­fore do­ing any­thing. Here is what should go through his mind:

1. I can­not make the con­tract with­out uti­liz­ing the club suit.

2. The best way to play the clubs is to fi­nesse against West. If he has the king, I will make the con­tract with over­tricks. 3. If I win the first heart with the king, try the club fi­nesse against West and it loses to East, the out­come will then de­pend on how the op­pos­ing hearts are di­vided. If West started with only four hearts, I’ll be safe. But if he started

with five hearts, a heartre­turn by East through my J-7 will al­low West to score four hearts, and I will go down one.

4. Is there any way I can pro­tect against West hav­ing five hearts and East the king of clubs?

5. Eureka! I can as­sure the con­tract re­gard­less of how the op­pos­ing cards are di­vided. All I have to do is to al­low East’s queen of hearts to hold the first trick, re­tain­ing the K-Jas a stop­per. As­sum­ing East re­turns a heart, if he sub­se­quently gains the lead with the king of clubs and the hearts were orig­i­nally di­vided 5-2, he won’t have a heart to re­turn. And if the hearts arc di­vided 4-3, the op­po­nents can’t get more than four tricks no mat­ter how they de­fend. The duck­ing play at trick one thus as­sures South of scor­ing at least nine tricks, and, as the cards lie, hef in­ishes with 10.

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