BRIDGE

CON­CEN­TRATE ON WHAT RE­ALLY MAT­TERS

Sunday Star - - CROSSWORD - By Phillip Alder © 2018, UNITED FEA­TURE SYN­DI­CATE DISTRIBUTED BY AN­DREWS MCMEEL SYN­DI­CA­TION FOR UFS

In his in­tro­duc­tion to “Keys to Win­ning Bridge” (Baron Bar­clay), Frank Ste­wart writes, “The in­tent of this book is to help as­pir­ing play­ers im­prove by fo­cus­ing on the fac­tors that re­ally de­ter­mine how well they do.”

He and I firmly agree that most play­ers spend far too much time dis­cussing bid­ding con­ven­tions and not nearly enough on de­fense and de­clarer-play. How­ever, to pack in more ex­am­ple deals, the au­thor leaves a fair amount of anal­y­sis to the reader.

In this ex­am­ple, how should the play pro­ceed in two spades af­ter West leads the heart ace?

Nor­mally, West would be ex­pected to balance over two spades. The mantra is not to let the op­po­nents play at the two-level in a known eight-card or bet­ter fit. Here, if West had com­peted with three hearts, it would have been a dis­as­ter, go­ing down 500 if dou­bled by South. A take­out dou­ble would have got­ten East-West to three di­a­monds, which could have been made un­less the de­fense started with three rounds of trumps.

Against two spades, at trick one, East would nor­mally give an at­ti­tude sig­nal. So, when East plays the two, a West who plays on au­topi­lot will im­me­di­ately shift to a mi­nor, do­nat­ing an extra trick in that suit to de­clarer and con­ced­ing the con­tract.

West should re­al­ize that if East started with three hearts, it can­not cost to cash the heart king at trick two. Here, East will dis­card the di­a­mond four. Then, af­ter West gives East a heart ruff, what should he do?

It looks best to play three rounds of trumps, but a di­a­mond shift also de­feats the con­tract.

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