Bridge Showing a side suit
Today’s South opens one heart, and North has four-card support and enough values to invite game but not to comfortably force to game. Should he raise directly to three hearts (limit) or temporize with a response of one spade and show his heart support next as an invitational sequence?
I can argue for either approach. The case for a temporizing response: Knowing that North has spade length and strength may help South judge whether to bid game. The case for raising directly: West, the eventual opening leader, will have less information on which to base his lead, and East won’t be able to enter the auction as easily.
In a penny game at my club, North responded one spade. When North-south got to four hearts, West led the king of diamonds.
South happened to be Joe Overberry, whose devotion to overtricks is notorious. Joe thinks it’s nobler to go down in pursuit of an overtrick than to make his bid. He took the ace of diamonds, drew trumps and led a spade to dummy’s jack. East won, cashed his A-K of clubs and led a diamond to West’s queen.
“The contract was cold,” North grumbled.
“If the spade finesse wins,” Joe sniffed, “I make two overtricks.” Since East holds the A-K of clubs, declarer can exit with a diamond after he draws trumps. If West then leads a club, East can take the A-K but is end-played: He must lead a spade to dummy or concede a ruff-sluff. If instead West leads a spade at Trick Five, declarer takes the ace and leads a club to end-play East.