Bridge column, October 27: To avoid guesswork, get trick one right
Good players try to force their opponents to guess where to go for tricks. However, sometimes one is forced to guess only because of a second-best play earlier in a deal.
Here, South is in three no-trump. West leads the club nine and East overtakes with his 10. What should declarer do?
East's double of two clubs showed long and strong clubs. So North's three-club rebid asked South if he had a club stopper.
South has only five top tricks: three hearts and two clubs. He will have to establish three spades and one diamond. But this will necessitate losing the lead twice. And if East has both pointed-suit aces, the contract will have no chance. So, South mentally gives West an ace -- but which one?
Suppose South takes the first trick. It would be normal to play a spade; here, though, West would grab the trick with the ace and lead his second club, establishing East's suit while East still has the diamond ace as an entry.
Yes, if South guesses to lead a diamond at trick two, he is safe. But why guess? Declarer should duck the first trick. East will return a club, but now, when West gets in with his spade ace, he won't have a club to lead.
When you have two stoppers in the suit led and two high cards to dislodge, it is often right to duck the first trick.
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