Times-Herald (Vallejo)

A navigator of the bridge world

- By Phillip Alder

Name a famous explorer from the Age of Discovery. No doubt you thought of several.

There are certain bridge deals that make you wish you were a navigator, because you have to steer a careful course through the icebergs of distributi­onal destructio­n. One false tack, and you sink to defeat.

On today’s deal, you reach three no-trump following a simple but revealing Stayman auction. After West leads the diamond six, how would you plan the play?

First, count your top tricks. Here, there are six: two spades, one heart, two diamonds and one club. If either the club or heart finesse wins, immediatel­y you have the extra three tricks that you need.

So there is a natural reaction to win the first trick and try a finesse. But which one do you take? You must consider the opening lead. Is the six West’s fourth-highest diamond? Very unlikely. If he had, say, Q-10-9-6 of diamonds, probably he would have led the 10, not the six. So it looks as though he has attacked from a short suit, perhaps because he has length in both majors. If this is true, East is the danger hand. So you must drive out his potential entry first.

You should duck the first trick. It cannot cost, and when East puts in the nine, it confirms your reading of the suit. You win the second diamond with dummy’s king, play a spade to the king and run the club queen.

East may win with the king and return a diamond, but you cross to dummy with a club and take the heart finesse. Although it also loses, your contract is safe.

© 2023 UFS, Dist. by Andrews McMeel for UFS

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