Take your brain where it is needed

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - CLASSIFIED­S - By Phillip Alder PHILLIP ALDER

Robert McNa­mara, a for­mer Sec­re­tary of De­fense, said, “Brains are like hearts — they go where they are ap­pre­ci­ated.”

Think about to­day’s deal. West led the club jack against South’s con­tract of six spades. What should de­clarer have done? As a side is­sue, what was West’s more-ef­fec­tive lead?

Af­ter South opened with a strong, ar­ti­fi­cial and forc­ing two clubs, North re­sponded two no-trump, de­scrib­ing a bal­anced hand with at least 8 high-card points. Nor­mally, North would have shown his five-card suit, es­pe­cially a ma­jor, but he did not like its weak­ness. Af­ter spades were agreed, there were two con­trol-bids and a jump to slam.

South had 11 top tricks: six spades, one heart, one di­a­mond and three clubs. He put his brain to work on the heart suit. Should he take the heart fi­nesse or play to es­tab­lish a long heart?

The fi­nesse was a 50% shot. Play­ing to es­tab­lish a long heart win­ner re­quired a 3-3 or 4-2 split, a prob­a­bil­ity of 84%. The brain knew what to do.

De­clarer took the first trick and cashed the spade ace. If that suit had been 4-0, he would have needed the heart fi­nesse. But when both op­po­nents fol­lowed, South played the heart ace and queen. West took the trick and shifted to a di­a­mond. De­clarer won with dummy’s ace, ruffed a heart high, played a spade to the jack, ruffed an­other heart, re­turned to the board with a trump and cashed the heart eight, dis­card­ing his last di­a­mond.

A di­a­mond lead would have de­feated the slam. East wished he had dou­bled five di­a­monds.


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