Bridge column, December 28: If one chance, play for it
It is easy to be clever tomorrow -- after a deal has finished. Experts, though, usually make the right plays before they get to trick 13.
In today's deal, how should South play in five spades after West leads the diamond queen?
North's three-diamond cue-bid showed spade support and at least game-invitational values. East doubled to indicate diamond support. So West went on to five diamonds, hoping that if he went down, it would be a cheap sacrifice. And South, unsure who could make what, competed to five spades.
Note that five diamonds goes down only if North leads a spade. Otherwise, with hearts 3-3 and with several dummy entries in trumps, West can make the contract.
In five spades, declarer tried dummy's diamond king, then ruffed East's ace. South drew two rounds of trumps ending on the board, ruffed the last diamond to eliminate that suit, then played a club. West took his ace and would have done best to shift to a low heart, forcing declarer to decide what to do immediately. But West, thinking that he might get two heart tricks by force and worried that South might have the heart 10, exited with the club queen.
Declarer cashed dummy's club tricks, crossed to hand with a trump, and led a low heart, West playing low smoothly. That was excellent defense, but since West was marked with at least one heart honor, South had to call for dummy's jack. And when it held, he claimed.
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