by Phillip Alder
THE INITIAL PASS HELPS AS USUAL
George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Anne Evans, wrote, “Animals are such agreeable friends -- they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
Unless the animals are in the Victor Mollo bridge stories. Some of those are highly critical of their partners’ play.
Can you avoid partner’s feeling critical at the end of today’s deal? You are in four hearts. West leads the spade ace, cashes the spade king and plays a third spade. You ruff high in the dummy, and East contributes the queen.
Two spades was a cue-bid raise, showing a maximum pass with heart support. South’s jump to game was slightly aggressive.
At first glance, you need one minor-suit finesse to work, but in fact, aided by West’s initial pass, the contract is assured with a counterintuitive play.
At trick four, cash the heart king, then play a diamond toward your jack. What might happen?
If West can take the trick with the diamond king, then the club finesse must be winning. West would have shown up with 10 points (spade ace-king and diamond king), but could not open the bidding as dealer. He cannot also hold the club king.
Here, though, East is caught in a quandary. If he does not take the trick, your jack wins and you have no diamond loser. A better defense is to win with the diamond king and shift to a club. But you win with your ace, cash the heart ace and diamond jack, cross to the board with a trump and discard your club 10 and club queen on the diamond ace and queen. You take five hearts, three diamonds, one club and the spade ruff.