Bridge column, October 19: Keep counting up to nine
Bridge envy is knowing that an opponent counts better than you do. Well, it is time to lose that envy. South is in three no-trump. What should he do after West leads the diamond two?
South's rebid of one no-trump showed 12 to 14 points. Two diamonds was New Minor Forcing. Two no-trump denied three hearts (and four spades, if South could have rebid one no-trump despite holding four spades).
Declarer always starts by counting his top tricks when in no-trump. Here, he should see seven: one spade, three hearts and three diamonds. Clubs, hearts and spades have the potential to provide extra winners -- but which suit should be attacked first?
Consider each suit in turn. Clubs: Often it is correct to play on the suit with the greatest number of cards, but here it will take too long to establish clubs. The defenders will get their diamonds going first and take two diamonds and three clubs.
Hearts: South could duck a heart to pick up four tricks in the suit (most of the time). Or he could play hearts from the top, hoping for a 3-3 break (which happens about one-third of the time).
Spades: Interestingly, the right line is to take the spade finesse at trick two. If it wins, declarer needs only four heart tricks, so can play a low heart from both hands at trick three. If, though, the spade finesse fails, South will have to hope for a 3-3 heart break.
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