Steve Becker



Arena Holdings PTY


A stitch in time saves nine Opening lead — five of spades. Many deals contain booby traps that all too often ensnare unwary declarers who don’t take the time to think things out. Perhaps the best advice is to assume that there is a booby trap on every deal and proceed from there. Consider this case where you’re in three notrump and West leads the five of spades. When you play low from dummy, East wins with the king and shifts to the seven of clubs. Your jack loses to the king, and West returns the nine of clubs to your ace. You cross to dummy with a heart and lead the queen of diamonds, finessing after East follows low. West wins with the king and returns a club, and you wind up down two, losing a spade, a diamond and four club tricks. You could complain about bad luck, if you’re so minded, because two finesses had to fail in order to lose the contract. In fact, you would have made five notrump if West had had the king of spades and East the king of diamonds. But when you analyse the play more fully, you realise that the contract was a sure thing from the word “go” and that the outcome was really your own fault. All you had to do to wrap up three notrump was to win the opening spade lead with dummy’s ace and take a diamond finesse. Win or lose, you could not score less than nine tricks. It is certainly not difficult to prove that playing a low spade from dummy at trick one jeopardises the contract, while playing the ace of spades guarantees it. A little thought — combined with a cautious nature — often makes all the difference between success and failure. —