The Star Democrat

Who ended with shining cucumbers?

- By Phillip Alder © 2021, UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE DISTRIBUTE­D BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATIO­N FOR UFS

In “Gulliver’s Travels,” Jonathan Swift wrote, “He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetical­ly sealed and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.”

Bridge players do not spend eight years learning how to get a warm feeling inside with an eight-card suit. Before we get to that, though, look at today’s West hand. West opens one spade, North overcalls two hearts, East raises to four spades, and South competes with five diamonds, which East doubles.

Do you agree with West’s calls, and what should he lead?

Nowadays, “everyone” bids one spade, hoping partner does not respond in diamonds. Here, though, the auction accelerate­d rapidly, putting South on the spot. But she remembered what you call an eight-card suit -- trumps!

In theory, five diamonds was a losing decision because four spades was going down; the defenders would have taken three hearts and one spade. Still, five diamonds had not failed yet.

West led a spade. South won with her ace, drew two rounds of trumps and played four rounds of hearts, discarding her two club losers. She claimed a sunny overtrick and plus 650.

Maybe West should have expected his opponents to be ready for the obvious lead and selected the club ace -- but that is much easier to say when you can see the full deal. If West continues with a second club, five diamonds goes down because East has a trump trick to come.

Basically, in this type of deal, you must hope to guess well, but aggressive bids tend to do better than cautious passes.

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