ACES ON BRIDGE
WEALTH. Any income that is at least $100 more a year than the income of one’s wife’s sister’s husband.
— H.L. Mencken In this deal from a knockout match, North-South conducted a delicate auction to four hearts. Facing a major two-suiter, North decided his diamond stopper was too weak for three no-trump. He offered a choice of major-suit games, and South, perhaps erroneously, chose hearts when she passed the four-heart call.
Neither of her suits was stacked with intermediates, but South’s spade holding (because it included the queen-jack) was more appropriate as the trump suit. This is because she might have no slow losers in the spade suit, while she would likely have a slow heart loser she could ruff.That was indeed the case, but four spades would not have been a column-worthy deal!
West led a top diamond and, when East encouraged, continued with the diamond ace. Declarer ruffed and led a heart to the queen and king. East could not profitably continue diamonds from his side of the table, so he returned a heart. Declarer won that, drew the remaining trumps and then dislodged the spade ace to make it home.
Interestingly, West could have set the hand by leading his low diamond at trick two. East would insert the diamond 10 and later continue diamonds twice more to force declarer out of the game. As it was, dummy’s diamond jack guarded the fourth round.
It may seem unnatural to lead the low card from a remaining doubleton honor, but it can sometimes be necessary when entries are at a premium. Rixi Markus used this as the theme for her Bols bridge tip.
ANSWER: Lead the diamond four. Declarer’s jump to three no-trump implies two stoppers in your suit. You are unlikely to set up the clubs (especially given that your partner did not raise), so try a diamond. Incidentally, had your partner doubled the final contract, a heart lead might have made sense.