Bridge: Sept. 10, 2023

“I bid the fourth and final diamond.” — a player whose partner had bid clubs four times while he had bid diamonds.

It’s typical of newer players that when they hold a hand they find attractive, they may grab the auction and not let go, like a toddler clutching a favorite toy.

In today’s deal, the first four calls were fine, as was South’s second-round jump to three hearts. But West’s three spades was questionable; North should have doubled for plus 500. When he passed, South’s four hearts could be explained only by “I’m-declaring-come-what-may” syndrome.

West led the king of spades, and South took dummy’s ace and let the nine of trumps ride. West took the king and got out with his last trump. South next led the king of clubs, but West won and returned a club. Then South lost a diamond to West’s king and another club. Down one.

Players often get carried away with strong hands — and he who overbids is likely to underplay. South makes four hearts by refusing the trump finesse. On the bidding, West was likely to hold the king.

If South leads a heart to the ace at Trick Two, then another heart, West must make a helpful return. If he leads the queen of spades, South ruffs and forces out the ace of clubs. He wins West’s club return and leads the ace and a second diamond. West must give dummy the queen of diamonds or jack of spades, and South’s club loser goes away.

South’s most elegant play is to duck the opening lead! Whatever West leads next, he gives South a vital trick.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable


S A J 5

H 9 4

D Q 6 5 2

C 7 6 4 3


S K Q 10 9 7 3

H K 3

D K 9 4

C A 8


S 8 6 4

H 8 5

D J 10 8 7

C J 10 9 5


S 2

H A Q J 10 7 6 2

D A 3

C K Q 2

South West North East
1 H 1 S Pass Pass
3 H 3 S Pass(!) Pass
4 H All Pass
Opening lead — S K

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