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Bridge: When a switch in time saves nine

SIGNAL Success in Bridge by Danny Roth (Gollancz, pounds 6.99) was very well received when it first appeared, writes Alan Hiron.

A pleasing feature is that the author is not too dogmatic about the merits of the alternative methods he describes, leaving the reader to make his own choice. The following is an example of a situation in which many defenders would make a mistake.

North-South game; dealer West


A J 9

9 8 5 3


A J 10 7 4


5 3

A 10 7

J 8 6 5 4 2

9 6


K 8 6 4 2

K J 6

K 10 3

3 2


Q 10 7

Q 4 2

Q 9 7

K Q 8 5

North opened One Club and raised his partner's response of Two No-trumps to game. Against Three No-trumps West routinely led the five of diamonds to the ace, ten and seven. At trick two, declarer ran the queen of spades to East's king, and East cashed the king of diamonds.

This was the critical point in the defence. As you can see, it is essential for East-West to cash their three heart tricks now, otherwise it will be too late. East found the right switch for two reasons.

First, declarer had started playing on spades (in spite of holding only three) instead of clubs - almost certainly declarer had five club tricks ready to run. Second, the card West played under the king of diamonds was most revealing - he followed with the jack. Clearly this denied the queen and also declarer would have nine tricks after another diamond lead.

So East switched to the six of hearts. West, on winning with the ten, now had no difficulty in continuing with the ace and another heart to defeat the contract.