Bridge: Giving yourself an extra chance costs nothing

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The Independent Online
NORTH found a neat way to avoid four losers in Four Hearts on this deal. The snag, as you may have spotted, was that North was dummy and the declarer did not share his partner's foresight.

Game all; dealer South


J 3

J 10 9 3

Q 10 3

A K 8 2


K 10 9 8 6 2

4 2

A 2

J 10 7


7 4

A 5

9 8 7 6 5

Q 9 4 3


A Q 5

K Q 8 7 6

K J 4

6 5

South opened One Heart, West overcalled with One Spade, and North raised to Three Hearts. With values in reserve, South went on to game and West started with the ace and another diamond against Four Hearts.

Declarer won in dummy and, with the air of a man about to take a finesse, led the jack of hearts from the table. East, however, was not fooled - he went in immediately with his ace and gave his partner a diamond ruff. West got safely off lead with a club, and there was no way for South to avoid the loss of a spade trick.

As the cards lie, the adverse diamond ruff could not be avoided, but there was a way South could have removed West's exit cards before touching trumps.

Suppose, at trick 3, that he starts with the ace and king of clubs and a club ruff. Then he leads a trump. As before, West gets his diamond ruff, but now he has nothing but spades left and declarer loses no more tricks.

It is true that this line of play depends upon West holding precisely a 6-2-2-3 distribution, but it would have cost declarer absolutely nothing to have given himself this extra chance.