Bridge column, January 5: If it looks weird, it is weird
If it looks weird, talks weird and smells weird, it must be weird -- especially if produced by a pro.
In other words, if a competent player does something weird, it is (almost certainly) not because he has lost his marbles, but because he is hoping to sneak a trick past an unsuspecting opponent.
In today's deal, South is in three no-trump. East is in the spotlight. West leads a fourth-highest club six. What should East be thinking?
First, though, let's look at declarer's problem. He has only eight top tricks: five spades, two diamonds and one club. And with clubs wide open, he must hope that East has the heart ace and is sleeping soundly. South should win the first trick and call for the heart jack, trying to look like a man about to take a finesse.
What should East conclude now?
Initially, East should have asked himself this question: What is declarer likely to do at trick two? Here, if South doesn't have the spade ace, he will surely establish that suit. So, when South doesn't do that, it is because he has the spade ace. Ergo, the suit is ready to run and declarer has eight top tricks: five spades, two diamonds and one club. Why is he calling for the heart jack?
South must be trying to sneak his ninth trick.
East mustn't fall for it: He should jump in with the heart ace and play clubs. If East ducks, South, in desperation, will put up his king and, when it wins, claim.
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