I’m at an age where it’s harder to find temptation than resist it. Still, as declarer I have to discipline myself to think things over before I play to the first trick.
Today’s West didn’t like his chances of beating 3NT by leading from one of his four-card majors; he tried the five of clubs. That lead looked friendly to declarer, who promptly played low from dummy.
East won and shifted to the jack of hearts, which was less friendly. South took his ace — he had no hurry to finesse with the queen — and started the diamonds. Alas for him, East won and continued hearts, and the defense took three hearts. Down one.
South’s haste at Trick One was punished. He must take the ace of clubs (he still has a stopper) and force out the ace of diamonds. If East shifts to hearts, South can afford to lose the finesse. The defense can take East’s high clubs for four tricks in all, but South has four diamonds, three spades, a heart and a club.
This week: the first trick.
You hold: S 9 8 7 2 H K 8 7 4 D 8 3 2 C 5 4. Your partner opens two clubs (strong, artificial), you respond two diamonds (negative or waiting), and he bids two hearts. What do you say?
Answer: A textbook call is available. Bid four hearts. You show good trump support but deny any side-suit strength: no side ace, king, singleton or void. You say you are willing to play at game but warn partner about trying for slam. If he bids again, he is on his own.