The Manila Times
HANDLE WITH CARE Some deals require extremely delicate handling if declarer is to get home safely. Today’s deal provides an example of the precision technique that might sometimes be needed. West leads the nine of hearts against four spades. When the nine holds, West continues with a heart, ruffed by South. What should declarer do next? If he makes the mistake of leading a low spade to dummy’s ten, he will end up a trick short of his goal. West follows low, and East wins the ten with the king. East returns a heart, and South must now lose two more trump tricks. If he ruffs the heart low, West overruffs with the nine; if he ruffs high, West simply discards and scores the ace and nine later. Instead, declarer should cross to dummy with a diamond at trick three and lead the deuce of spades toward his hand. East’s best play is to follow low, and the queen loses to the ace. Let’s assume West returns a diamond. South wins with the ace but is not yet out of the woods. He must still be careful not to lead a low spade to the ten. If he does, East wins with the king and returns a heart, and once again West’s nine becomes promoted. To prevent this, declarer must be sure that the second trump lead also comes from dummy. After taking the ace of diamonds, he should cross to the queen of clubs and lead the four of spades. East wins with the king as South follows low. Declarer is now fully prepared to cope with East’s heart return. He ruffs with the jack, leads a spade to the ten, picking up West’s nine, and takes the rest of the tricks. If South proceeds in the prescribed fashion, the opponents are helpless. It is simply a matter of proper manipulation of the trump suit.