Bridge column, September 25: A small variation; a big change
Bridge is an amazing game in that small changes to deals can result in big variations in the plays required for success.
In this deal, the North and South hands are identical to yesterday's. The only change to the defenders' hands is that now their clubs are 3-3, not 2-4. How does that affect their chances against three no-trump?
Yesterday we saw that because the diamond finesse is losing and the hearts are 5-3, taking that finesse is fatal for South. Instead, he assumes that East has one club honor. Declarer cashes his spade king, plays a spade to dummy's jack, and plans to take as many club finesses as necessary to build up three tricks in the suit (to go with four spades, one heart and one diamond).
Here, though, the defenders have a resource. When South leads dummy's club jack at trick four, East covers with his king. Declarer cannot duck; otherwise, East leads a heart. But when South wins and plays another club, West ducks. Declarer, with no hand entry, gets only two club tricks and goes down.
And in yesterday's deal, if East had covered the club jack with the king, it probably would have worked. Yes, South could duck, then play a club to his ace to drop West's queen, but he would be unlikely to do so.
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