The spot cards can be hard to spot
By Phillip Alder June 28, 2012 2:16PM
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:05AM
Phyllis Battelle, a syndicated columnist, said, “A reporter discovers, in the course of many years of interviewing celebrities, that most actors are more attractive behind a spotlight than over a spot of tea.”
A bridge player discovers, in the course of many years, that most competitors are more attentive to honor cards than spot cards. An honor card appearing unexpectedly is always noticed. But many partners will not register that partner played, say, a four before a three.
Also, the inexperienced give away lots of free information with the spot and honor cards that they play. This column is particularly useful for players who compete against opponents who watch the cards and work out who has what.
Declarer, when playing a spot card from his closed hand, usually does better not to play the lowest one, but to play the next one up.
We had one example yesterday. Here is another. How should South plan the play in three no-trump after West leads the spade king?
There seem to be nine easy tricks via one spade, three hearts and five diamonds. But South had better notice the diamond-spot situation. If he plays his three on any of the first three rounds of diamonds, he will take the fourth diamond trick in his hand and the fifth winner will die in the dummy because there is no entry.
Instead, declarer follows the second-lowest “rule.” He leads the seven to the queen, drops the eight under the king, and throws his nine on the ace. Then dummy’s four squashes South’s three and the two can be cashed. Declarer “inadvertently” unblocks the suit.