The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

By Phillip Alder



A few of my students say that they find no-trump contracts harder to play than suit contracts. I tell them that they are wrong, pointing out that my library contains only three books about notrump, one of which is in French, and more than 1,000 about suit contracts.

Now I have a fourth no-trump book because the French one, “Step by Step, Playing No-trump Contracts” by Robert Berthe and Norbert Lebely, has been translated into English.

The book is in three parts. The first contains 49 deals. Part two comprises a list of the key concepts. Finally there are 26 problems so that you can self-test. Today’s deal is one of those. How should South play in six no-trump after West leads the spade nine?

In the auction, four no-trump was quantitati­ve. South’s five-notrump rebid showed exactly 16 points, in the middle of the 15-17 range. North went one more because he knew that 33 was the magic number for six no-trump without a five-card suit.

South must take two spades, three hearts, three diamonds and four clubs. Getting the fourth club is easy if the suit is splitting 3-2 or the jack is a singleton. Even if an opponent has jack-fourth, that is in theory no problem because South can finesse through either opponent.

In this situation, leave the key suit until last. Drive out the spade ace and cash all red-suit winners. What does declarer learn? That West started with five spades, five hearts, two diamonds and, therefore, only one club. So, South cashes his club king, crosses to dummy’s ace and runs the 10 through East.

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