The Punxsutawney Spirit

Alder's NEA Bridge: You go up, he goes down

- By Phillip Alder

Continuing the cliche theme, today we have: "Don't send a boy to do a man's job." In a bridge sense, this usually means that you shouldn't ruff low and risk an overruff when you can safely ruff high. However, in today's deal, there is an alternativ­e interpreta­tion. See if you can spot it.

South's two spades was a weak jump overcall, showing the equivalent of an opening weak two-bid: a decent six-card suit and some 6-10 high-card points. North bid what he hoped his partner could make. However, North, because of his heart king, might instead have jumped to three no-trump. That contract, when played by North, is impregnabl­e, and four spades can be beaten with best defense.

West led the heart three. East took two tricks in the suit and exited with his trump.

Declarer won in hand, cashed the club king, played a club to dummy's ace and ruffed the club eight in hand.

Knowing East had to have the diamond honors for his opening bid, South led the diamond two: three, eight, queen. What could East return? If a diamond, it would be into dummy's ace-jack tenace. If a heart, it would concede a ruff-and-sluff. Either way, South — very luckily — was home.

East was understand­ably disappoint­ed in his partner. If only West had put in the diamond nine (or 10), the endplay wouldn't have worked. If dummy had played low, West would have led a second diamond; if dummy had covered with the jack, East would have won with the queen and safely returned the suit.

When declarer is trying to execute an eliminatio­n and endplay, second hand must play high at the throw-in trick.

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