By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bridge 11/17
The first trick on the week's last day
Placeholder Image
    French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, "The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first."
    Sometimes, at the bridge table, you find out after the last trick that the key error was made at the first trick. After the opening lead has been made, always take time before playing from the dummy.
    In this deal, against your contract of three no-trump, West leads his fourth-highest heart, promising an honor in the suit. What would you do?
    It is "normal" to open one diamond when you are 4-4 in the minors. But I feel that with a very strong hand, like South's here, opening one club increases your chances of finding the best fit, especially if that is in clubs.
    Whenever you are in no-trump, always count your top tricks (instant winners) first. You should see seven: two spades, two hearts (given the opening lead), one diamond and two clubs. You presumably could set up an eighth trick in diamonds, but it is much more sensible to attack spades. However, unless you find West with queen-doubleton or queen-third, once dummy's suit is established, you will need an entry to reach it. What is that entry?
    It must be in hearts. And the only way to guarantee that is to take the first trick with your heart ace. (If you win with any other card, best defense will defeat you.) Next, cash the spade ace and take a spade finesse. It loses, and let's say that East now shifts to a diamond. Take the trick and play a heart, forcing that entry to the dummy.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter