The Dallas Morning News
ACES ON BRIDGE
This deal occurred some years ago as the final deal of a local Chicago rubber game. South knew he needed to make a game to break even for the night, and the honors in hearts would be the bonus.
West began with the spade king, asking for count. When East signaled an even number of spades, West continued with the spade ace and another spade. South was in a poor game, despite North producing four-card trump support and two useful cards in diamonds. Declarer saw that, to make his contract, he needed both the diamond king and club ace to be onside. Even if that were so, he saw that he would have to play carefully because the heart eight was the only possible entry to dummy.
So declarer ruffed the third spade high, retaining his precious seven. He then drew two rounds of trumps before crossing to dummy by overtaking the heart seven with dummy’s eight.
Now declarer led the diamond queen. If East had covered, declarer would have been able to return to dummy in diamonds to lead a club to the king. East played low, but declarer countered by dropping his jack under dummy’s queen. Next, he led the diamond 10, and again East played low. At that point, declarer could lead a club toward the king. When it held, declarer claimed a fortunate 10 tricks.
If declarer had started diamonds with the nine instead, East would have played low, then covered the queen on the next round, stranding the lead in declarer’s hand.
Answer: Double. You have limited your hand already, so there is no serious harm in com- peting when you hold a decent hand with suitable shape. The onus is on the player with shortness in the opponents’ suit to protect, or pre-balance here, to compete the part-score. Partner should not take you too seriously (especially if he has played with you before).