Con­tract Bridge

An ounce of preven­tion

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker

Spe­cial cir­cum­stances some­times force de­clarer to aban­don the nor­mal way to play a suit. One of the most im­por­tant rea­sons for this is to try to pre­vent a par­tic­u­lar de­fender from gain­ing the lead.

Take this case where West leads the di­a­mond king against four hearts. When dummy comes down, South sees there are two pos­si­ble losers in spades, two more in trumps and an­other in di­a­monds. If he loses all of them, he goes down two.

On the more pos­i­tive side, how­ever, de­clarer notes that he is far more likely to lose one trump trick than two. Fur­ther­more, if ev­ery­thing goes well, he may also be able to dis­card a loser or two on dummy’s clubs.

The prob­lem for South from the start is to keep the de­fend­ers from scor­ing four tricks be­fore he can take 10. To this end, he must find a way to stop East from gain­ing the lead and re­turn­ing a spade through the king.

Ac­cord­ingly, de­clarer ducks West’s king of di­a­monds at trick one to make sure East can’t later win a trick with a di­a­mond. Af­ter West ex­its with a di­a­mond to dummy’s ace, South’s next con­cern is how to tackle the trumps.

Or­di­nar­ily, with this trump com­bi­na­tion, de­clarer might play the ace and an­other heart. But here, given the cir­cum­stances, there is too much dan­ger that East might gain the lead with the king. So at trick three, de­clarer leads dummy’s trump seven and lets it ride af­ter East plays low.

West wins with the jack but is help­less. What­ever he re­turns, South picks up East’s king on the next trump lead and eas­ily makes the con­tract. In fact, if West does not cash his ace of spades af­ter win­ning the trump jack, de­clarer fin­ishes with an over­trick.

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