Bridge column, January 11: Is the suit friend or foe?
At the bridge table, a suit can be like a friend or foe, often depending on how the suit divides between your other foe, your opponents.
How is that relevant to this deal? South is in four hearts. West leads the diamond queen. Since this marks East with the ace, declarer plays low from the dummy at this trick and the next, when West continues the suit. However, East takes the third trick with his ace, then shifts to the club queen. How should South continue?
South rebid two spades in case he and his partner had a better fit there than in hearts. (North could have held five spades and three hearts. To respond one spade with that hand would have been wrong, in particular if South had rebid two clubs or two diamonds. Then North's preference to two hearts would have shown only a doubleton, and South would have misevaluated the fit.)
Having lost three tricks, South needed the trumps to break 3-2. But he also had a potential spade loser. If the missing cards were friends, breaking 3-3, there would not be a problem. But if they were foe, dividing 4-2, declarer would need some luck.
South drew two rounds of trumps using dummy's queen and his ace. Then he shifted to spades, cashing his ace, crossing to the king, and leading back to his queen.
If the suit had been 3-3, declarer would have drawn the last trump and claimed. Here, though, he ruffed his fourth spade on the board, led a club to his ace, removed West's last heart, and claimed.
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