The Washington Post
“E ight out of 24 Americans can’t reduce a fraction to its lowest terms.” — graffiti
Expert declarers look for slight extra chances to succeed. Over a lifetime of play, those chances can matter.
At today’s 3NT, South took the ace of clubs and saw that to lead a low diamond wasn’t safe. If dummy’s queen won, South would lack the entries to set up and cash the diamonds. So South led the king of diamonds.
East won and returned a club. South took the queen, but when he cashed the jack of diamonds, East threw a spade. South took two more high diamonds, then tried a spade to dummy’s jack. East won and led his last club for down two.
South had a fractionally better play. He leads a spade to dummy at Trick Two and returns the queen of diamonds. If East followed low, South would overtake with the king to continue diamonds. But when East’s ace appears, South is safe.
East will have the singleton ace only one time in 100, but those little chances can add up.
♠ AKJ52 ♥ A 10 6 3
♦ Q ♣ 642
You open one spade, your partner responds two diamonds, you bid two hearts and he returns to two spades. What do you say?
ANSWER: In “Standard” methods, partner’s sequence invites game. Since you have good trumps, a side ace and a helpful queen in his side suit, bid four spades. In the “two-over-one” style, his two diamonds forced to game, so you might bid three spades in case he has slam aspirations.