Bridge column, August 17: The points point toward a defense
Bridge experts rarely worry about decimal points, but they spend every deal counting high-card points. This usually helps them to find the right declarer-play or defense.
In today's deal, East is defending against four hearts. West leads the spade three and East takes the first trick with his queen, South dropping the four. How should East continue?
North's sequence showed game-forcing values with exactly three-card heart support. But maybe he should have tried to steer toward no-trump.
East should first wonder about the spade suit. Since West led the three, he can have only a four- or five-card suit. So South must have at least one more spade. That means spades will supply two defensive tricks. But where are the other two?
Count the high-card points. There are 17 missing, which means that West has only one useful card. If that is a high diamond, it is probably not good enough to defeat the contract. Much more useful would be something in hearts, especially given dummy's weak trumps.
The best defense is to cash the spade ace, then to play a third spade.
After declarer wins with dummy's king, he will probably play a heart to his jack. West wins with his king and leads a fourth spade, which East ruffs with his heart queen. This uppercuts South and establishes West's heart nine as the fourth defensive winner.
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