Bridge column, May 9: Losers do not take care of themselves
At the bridge table, losers do not go away. You may hope they disappear, but unless you do something to eliminate them, they will hang around, ready to defeat you.
In this deal, how should South play in four spades after West leads the club queen?
The bidding had a modern tinge to it. North's two-club cue-bid showed game-invitational values with spade support. South happily jumped to game.
Start by counting losers. Here, South has one club, one diamond, one heart and (perhaps) one spade. Next, count winners. There are 10: four spades, two hearts, two diamonds and two clubs. So declarer has the wherewithal to make his contract if he can avoid losing four tricks first.
South could rely on the spade finesse. However, how likely is that to win? There are only 14 high-card points missing; surely West has the spade king. And if he does, how can declarer reduce his loser count by one?
He needs to look at the side suits with more cards in one hand than in the other -- here, hearts. South can discard his club loser on the third round of hearts. But he must be careful, because West might duck the first round of hearts and capture the second before leading another club.
South must take the first trick with his club ace, cash the spade ace and drive out the heart ace. He takes the next club trick on the board, pitches his club loser and plays a second trump.
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