- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

South dealer.

North-South vulnerable.

NORTH

K 8

K 7 6 3

K 4 2

A J 4 3

WEST EAST

Q J 7 3

9 5 J 10 8 2

Q J 10 9 A 7 5 3

10 8 6 K 9 7 5 2

SOUTH

A 10 9 6 5 4 2

A Q 4

8 6

Q

The bidding:

SouthWestNorthEast

1 Pass2 NTPass

4

Opening lead — queen of diamonds.

Although bidding methods have vastly improved since contract bridge was introduced in 1925, comparatively little additional progress has been made in the play of the cards. This is largely because, during the two or three centuries when auction bridge and whist — the predecessors of contract bridge — were played, a high level of skill had already been achieved in this area.

For example, take this deal from the 1936 Bridge Olympics, which used prearranged “par” hands to determine the outcome. The salient point of the play is just as valid now as it was then — and equally instructive.

West leads three rounds of diamonds, declarer ruffing the third. South must now draw trumps, but when he leads a low spade at trick four and West follows low, he should play dummy’s eight. If he doesn’t, he will sooner or later have to lose two trump tricks and go down one.

The obvious purpose of the deal was to test South’s knowledge of safety plays. In the given case, it was incumbent upon South to realize that the only threat to his contract was a 4-0 trump division, with West holding the four spades. If that situation existed, South could virtually guarantee getting home safely by leading a spade to the eight at trick four.

It is true that when four cards of a suit are missing, they will be divided 4-0 only about 1 out of 10 times. Nevertheless, a cautious declarer should take any step necessary to protect himself against this possibility.

Even though the safety play might frequently cost South a trick, he should be willing to pay that small premium, since making the contract is always the first consideration.

KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

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