The Punxsutawney Spirit

Alder's NEA Bridge: Move halfway around the table

- By Phillip Alder

Samuel Johnson once said, "You must have taken great pains, sir; you could not naturally have been so very stupid." At least we know that he wasn't talking to a bridge player, who has a good brain in her or his head. Even so, occasional­ly these well-oiled intellects short circuit. Take today's deal as an example. How should South play in six spades after West leads a trump?

North's jump to five spades showed slam interest with useful cards in spades and diamonds, but no heart or club control.

South has 12 tricks: seven spades, two hearts, one diamond and two clubs. However, the original declarer, finding himself in the dummy, was lured over the precipice, immediatel­y playing a heart to his jack. There was a flash in the fuse box when West won with the king and returned his second trump; South suddenly found that he had only 11 tricks. There was no way to avoid a club loser.

Declarer had not considered the entry situation. When the heart finesse lost and a trump came back, he didn't have the communicat­ions to collect the second heart trick. If he had just led a heart to his ace at trick two and returned the heart jack at trick three, South would have been in fine shape. After West won with the heart king and played his second trump, declarer would have discarded his two club losers, one on the heart queen and the other on the diamond ace.

Only take a finesse if its success will generate an extra trick or its loss won't cost you that trick and one more besides.

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