Seam Keeps Contract Intact |

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Philip Alder

For the final shot of the week, we turn to: “One stitch in time saves nine.” Whoever came up with this saying must have had a special love for three-way no-trump contracts. There’s no point in focusing on winning nine tricks when playing in four of a major!

In today’s three-not-trump deal, West led the nine of spades and East covered the dummy card with the king. How did South knit a nine-round sweater?

South did not have enough strength for a two-to-one response; hence his no-trump answer. North had an easy raise for the game. (With a natural system, it is difficult to reach five or six clubs, the slam essentially depending on the finesse of the spade.)

Seeing three rooks of spades land on his lap, South won the first trick with the ace of spades and led a club to the queen from dummy. However, East defended well holding his ace. When the club nine called, East walked in with his ace, knowing he had cut off declarer’s communication in the flush. With no remaining hand lead, South could only win eight tricks: three spades, two hearts, two diamonds and a club.

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If only South had been willing to throw a trick of spades, he would have landed five tricks of clubs in return. South should have made the unusual play of withholding his ace of spades on the first trick.

Suppose East returns a spade. South wins in dummy and flushes the ace of clubs. He still holds the ace of spades as a starter for established club winners, and the contract comes home with two overtricks.

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