Bridge column, August 28: Do not be deaf to the auction
Walter Lippmann, who originated the terms "Cold War" and "stereotype," said, "It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: The music is nothing if the audience is deaf."
At the bridge table, the auction is nothing if the players are deaf to it. This deal would be impossible for anyone who did not remember the bidding; it would be testing for someone who did.
How should South plan the play in three no-trump? West leads his fourth-highest heart. East wins with his ace and returns the three, his original fourth-highest. (If he had started with only three hearts, he would have led back his higher remaining card in the suit.)
To be honest, although it was best here, I disapprove of West's opening lead. With no side-suit entry, he should have led his spade. (The last time I did not lead partner's suit, diamonds, they made three no-trump vulnerable instead of going down three.)
South has eight top tricks: three spades, one heart and four clubs. He does not have time to play on diamonds, so must get four spade tricks. With silent opponents, declarer would cash his ace and queen, but that does not rate to work here, needing West to have a singleton jack.
South should hope that West has a singleton eight or nine. Declarer plays a club to dummy's 10, then leads specifically the spade 10. If East plays low, South runs the 10. If East covers with his jack, declarer wins with his ace (or queen) and happily notes the fall of the eight on his left. He returns to the dummy with a club, plays a spade to his seven, and can claim.
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