The Weekly Vista

Contract Bridge

For The Good Of The Team

- By Steve Becker

In the vast majority of deals, the defenders achieve their optimum result by working closely together as a team and guiding each other carefully toward their common goal — defeat of the contract. Consider this deal where thoughtles­s defense allows declarer to make four spades while thoughtful defense defeats it.

Let’s say West leads the king of diamonds and East signals with the eight. When West obeys his partner by leading another diamond, the contest is over. South ruffs, draws trump and finesses the queen of clubs. East wins, but South takes the rest of the tricks, depositing his two heart losers on dummy’s clubs.

Now let’s suppose that East takes a bit more time to assess the situation before he plays to the first trick. For starters, he can easily deduce from dummy’s high cards and his own that West almost surely has six diamonds for his overcall, so continuing diamonds would serve no constructi­ve purpose. This would leave hearts as the only real hope for the defense.

Accordingl­y, he overtakes the king of diamonds with the ace at trick one and shifts to the deuce of hearts. If South follows low, West wins with the jack and continues a heart, and declarer eventually goes down one, losing two hearts, a diamond and a club.

Once East appreciate­s the futility of a diamond continuati­on at trick two, he is forced to pin his hopes on the possibilit­y of his side scoring two heart tricks. But since he is in a much better position to make this assessment, he should take command of the situation.

Overtaking the king of diamonds with the ace may appear overly dramatic, but under the circumstan­ces, it is absolutely necessary.

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