Bridge column, February 8: If he could have, he would have
There are times when it is easier to play against good players. They are reliable. If they can do something beneficial for themselves, they will; they will not make silly errors. Beginners are not trustworthy.
That is relevant in this deal, where South is an expert. He is in seven hearts. West leads a trump. What should South do, and how should West discard?
After South opened one heart, North understandably drove into the grand slam after two doses of Blackwood.
Despite all of the high-card points, the contract looks impossible -- declarer has only 12 tricks. His only chance is to run winners and hope for a misdefense.
At the table, South took all of his trumps, discarding a spade from the board. West calmly pitched all of his diamonds. This persuaded East to throw diamonds as well.
Then came dummy's diamond winners. East let go of three clubs; West released one spade and one club. But West was not sure what to do on the last diamond.
Eventually, not wanting to come down to queen-doubleton in clubs, he discarded a second spade. But now the missing spades were 2-2 and declarer gained a 13th trick.
What did West overlook?
If South had started with three clubs, he would have ruffed the third on the board to gain an extra trump trick.
Also, for a sophisticated pair, when East threw clubs, he should have played first the two, discouraging, then the seven or eight, high to show a remaining even number.
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