Bridge column, October 20: How do you unblock the club suit?
I hope you cannot read this newspaper column without learning something. And during the play, sometimes you have to unblock -- open up -- a suit.
Look at today's diagram. South is in three no-trump. This would be fine, given that clubs are 2-1, except that West has led the diamond king. Once that ace is removed from the dummy, how can South get seven club tricks?
Minor-suit transfers arise rarely, but they do have their moments. Here, North responded two spades, showing six-plus clubs and zero-plus points. South rebid three clubs to say that he had a club fit. (With bad clubs, South would have rebid two no-trump.) Now North's three spades showed a singleton or void in that suit. (With four spades, long clubs and game-going values, North would have started with Stayman.) South signed off in three no-trump.
South starts with seven top tricks: four spades, one diamond and two clubs. But he must take at least nine tricks on the run. If he loses the lead, the defenders will cash too many red-suit tricks.
The only way to cash seven club tricks is first to discard a club from the South hand. So declarer must duck the first trick. And if West continues with a second diamond, he must duck again. (If West shifts, South leads another diamond himself.) Then, even if West switches, South can cash his club king, play a club to the ace, and discard his last club on the diamond ace.
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