Bridge column, August 1: Take a card away and it is easy
Declarer might wish a low card were changed to a much higher one. Can you imagine wishing a high card were changed into a lower one? In today's deal, how should South plan the play in six spades after ruffing West's club-king lead? Would it make a difference if the spade jack were the three?
North's two-club rebid was fourth-suit game-forcing. South's two-spade continuation showed at least 5-6 in spades and diamonds. (If South had been only 5-5, he would have opened one spade, not one diamond.) After North indicated spade support, four clubs and four hearts were control-bids (cue-bids) showing first-round controls in those suits and interest in a slam.
There is a temptation to play a spade to dummy's king, then to finesse the jack. Here, though, when it loses, declarer needs the heart finesse. When that fails also, the contract is down.
It is true that if East has queen-fourth of spades and no heart king, this line works well. But whenever spades are 3-2 (which is much more likely), the contract is laydown without any finessing. Change the spade jack to the three. Now South draws two rounds of trumps, then plays on diamonds, discarding all of dummy's heart losers. He takes five spades, one heart, five diamonds (one is ruffed by West) and a late heart ruff on the board.
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