South refused to be preempted out of action by West’s four-heart bid. South had no problem reopening by bidding four spades, despite the fact that he held only eight working points.
West led the three of hearts and South was faced with a difficult contract. South was looking at a heart loser, one in diamonds and perhaps two in clubs. Another worry was the queen of trump.
East won the ace of hearts and shifted to a diamond. South won the trick in the dummy with the king and paused to plan his play. For his jump to a four-heart contract with few high cards, it seemed probable that West would have distributional values, so South decided to play him for a singleton trump. South cashed the king of trump and continued with a spade to his 10. South had surmounted one hurdle when West discarded a heart.
South found a play that is so simple it is easy to overlook. He cashed the ace of trump and led a low diamond to the eight in the dummy. If West hopped up with the queen, he would be end-played in three suits. To avoid that, West followed low and East won with the Jack. East could not play a club without setting up a second trick for South, so he returned a heart. South countered by sluffing a club. West won the queen, but dummy’s Jack of hearts was set up to take care of the remaining club loser.
Notice that South’s play cost nothing. If diamonds were 3-3 and East returned a diamond, South could still rise with the ace and take a club discard on the last diamond.
Donna Swan is a resident of Longboat Key, an ardent bridge player and an American Contract Bridge League certified director who plays “for the fun of it.”