Bridge column, December 13: First a defense, then a declarer play
Deals that offer opportunities for both sides can be doubly instructive; that's no lie. For the next two days, let's look at this deal, first from the point of view of the defense.
West leads the heart four against three no-trump, East puts up the 10 and South takes the trick with his jack. Declarer plays a diamond to dummy's jack, then runs the club queen. After winning with his king, what should West do next?
North decided not to use Stayman with such a weak spade suit -- a reasonable decision. Remember, if responder uses Stayman and does not find a 4-4 major-suit fit, he has given free information to the defenders about declarer's hand.
What has West learned about the South hand?
The declarer must have the ace, king and jack of hearts; East was playing third hand high and the best he could do was the 10. South also holds the diamond king because East would have had no reason to duck. And declarer surely has the club ace. That makes a total of 15 points. This marks East with the spade king; otherwise, South would have been too strong to open one no-trump.
So West should shift to the spade five, his lowest card in the suit, saying that he has at least one spade honor and is trying to win tricks in this suit. East will win with his king and return the 10, the higher of two remaining cards, and the defenders will take one club and four spades.
What might declarer have done differently? Tune in tomorrow.
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