George Carlin said, “Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.”
In the real world at the bridge table, often the second-best play will work — but, honestly, not always. Today’s deal was sent to me by Danny Kleinman of Los Angeles. He gave only the North-South hands. Eventually, I produced a layout where the play he recommends is necessary. The second-best will work too, but the fifth-best will not!
What are those plays? South is in four hearts after North’s Texas transfer. West leads the spade four, and East puts up the queen. How should South continue?
The long-trump hand (North) contains four losers: one spade, two hearts and one club. The simplest way to eliminate one is to ruff the third spade
in hand. That is easy if trumps are 2-1, but if they are 3-0 and declarer plays a heart now, that defender can remove all of South’s trumps. Yes, declarer might then be able to establish his club suit, but not here.
The key point to realize is that if an opponent has all of the trumps, he will not also have the club ace, because then he surely would have opened the bidding. So, at trick two, South should lead the club king. West wins with the ace and plays a second spade. Declarer ruffs a club high — careful, careful! — and, if East does not overruff, trumps the spade 10.
Note that if South takes his two top spades, then leads the club two, East can win with his five(!) and play three rounds of trumps.