Bridge column, September 2: Do not concede without a fight
A bridge player should concede nothing until he has lost the setting trick. Until then, he should fight for every winner.
In this example, South gets into four spades. West leads the heart queen. East takes the trick with his ace and returns the heart three. How should South proceed?
North had a maximum single raise, and South was a fraction light for his jump to game. But with so many aces and kings, one should always push, especially when the lure is a game bonus.
Initially, this looks like an easy contract. When trumps break 3-2, as they normally will, declarer will lose one spade and two hearts. So he takes the second trick with his heart king and draws two rounds of trumps. Curses! Suddenly South has four losers. But before anyone has time to throw dirt on his face, he should ask if he might be able to take 10 tricks.
If so, he needs three clubs, two diamonds, one heart and four spades, the two he has already and either two diamond ruffs, or one ruff and a later trump winner.
Declarer should cash his diamond ace, play a diamond to dummy's king, and ruff a diamond in his hand. Then he takes his three club winners ending on the board. Now, with nine tricks in, when declarer leads dummy's last diamond, East has no defense.
If he discards, South ruffs. If East trumps in, South pitches his last heart and must get one more spade trick.
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