Bridge column, July 11: Count your tricks and get them
You will sleep at night if you count all of your tricks correctly. Take this three-no-trump contract. How should South plan the play after West leads his fourth-highest spade?
North, holding 14 high-card points, expected three no-trump to cruise home. He sensibly eschewed Stayman because he had 4-3-3-3 distribution. Also, if North-South had a 4-4 heart fit, game in that suit might fail because of bad breaks, leading, for example, to a defensive crossruff.
South had only four top tricks: two spades and two diamonds. He could get six more winners from hearts and clubs, but he would be losing the lead twice. Maybe the defenders could establish and cash too many spade tricks.
It looked to South as though it could not hurt if he tried dummy's spade jack at trick one. However, look what happened when East covered with the queen. Declarer ducked, and East returned his second spade. Then, because West had both missing aces, South lost three spades and those aces.
Now go back to trick one and play low from the board. Assume East puts in his nine. Declarer wins with his ace and, say, plays on clubs. West wins and leads a second spade. Now South finesses dummy's jack. Yes, it loses, but East does not have another spade to play (and if he did, the suit would be 4-3 and the contract safe).
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