Take your brain where it is needed
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.