Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
It has been said that nothing is certain except death and taxes, but the aspiring bridge player would do well to add to these the maxim that each player is dealt 13 cards. The backbone of good card play, both offensive and defensive, rests on this simple truth.
Take this case where West leads the king of diamonds against four spades. Declarer wins and plays the ace and another spade, losing to the king. West tries to cash the queen of diamonds but declarer ruffs.
South enters dummy with a trump and tries a club finesse, losing to the king. If West, eyeing dummy’s clubs, now gets panicky and leads the ace of hearts because he is afraid South will discard his heart losers on dummy’s clubs, he hands declarer the contract.
West may make this play because he thinks the only chance to stop the contract is to find East with the king of hearts. However, this reasoning is unsound, to say the least. West should return a club instead, because this cannot cost him the contract!
West has all the information he needs to make the club return completely safe. He knows South started with exactly five spades and one diamond, leaving declarer with seven cards in hearts and clubs.
If South has two clubs, he must have five hearts; if he has three clubs, he must have four hearts; if he has four clubs, he must have three hearts. In all of these cases, South cannot escape any heart losers he has.
Consequently, West’s only correct action is to return a club at trick seven and let nature take its course. The danger that South’s heart losers will somehow disappear is more imagined than real.
Column: Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.