It is better to guarantee
By Phillip Alder August 2, 2012 2:06PM
Updated: September 4, 2012 6:03AM
Online dating services are popular. But if Bette Davis were alive today and using one, I expect she would amend what she said, presumably after her fourth marriage ended in divorce in 1960: “I’d marry again if I found a man who had 15 million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”
In this deal, South is in three no-trump. West leads the heart nine in answer to his partner’s overcall in the suit. How can declarer guarantee his contract, regardless of the size of his bank account and his life expectancy?
South did not like jumping to three no-trump with only three hearts to the queen, but nothing else stood out as better. (Remember that a two-no-trump response in this situation shows only 10 to 12 points.)
South has five top tricks: two spades, one heart and two clubs. He can guarantee a second heart trick by playing low from the board at trick one. And surely the club suit can be established.
The safe play is to put up dummy’s heart ace and to call for a low club. If East plays low, declarer should put in his nine. Here, though, East will probably split his honors, playing the jack or queen. (My style is to play the top of touching honors in this situation.) South wins with his king and establishes the suit. He is now up to eight tricks (two spades, one heart and five clubs) and can get a ninth in one of the red suits.
What happens if South plays low from the board at trick one? Tune in tomorrow to find out.