Time for Thought

Dealer: East
Neither side vulnerable

S 8 5 3
H 7 4 2
D A 8 2
C K J 6 4
S K Q 9 2
H J 10 6
D K 4
C A 9 7 2
S A 10 7 4
H Q 9 3
D J 5
C Q 10 8 3
S J 6
H A K 8 5
D Q 10 9 7 6 3
C 5
PassPass1 CPass
1 S2 D2 S3 D
All Pass
Opening Lead: S K

“You often write about logical thought processes,” a reader writes. “When’s the best time to think? A deal may take eight minutes or less. When do I fit in my thinking?”Capable players don’t huddle at every trick. Do your thinking before a crucial trick arrives.

Against South’s three diamonds, West leads the king of spades, winning. When he sees dummy, he knows that at some point declarer will lead a club, and West will have to judge whether to grab his ace or play low. If West hesitates, he may as well take the ace. (To hesitate without the ace — with nothing to think about — would be unethical.)

Suppose South ruffs the third spade, leads a trump to the ace and returns a trump: jack, queen, king.

West can switch safely to the jack of hearts, but first he does some thinking. South had two spades and six diamonds. East had a four-card spade suit. But if East had four hearts, he would have responded one heart, showing his four-card majors “up the line.” South’s pattern is 2-4-6-1.

When South takes the ace of hearts and leads a club, West can take his ace. South can pitch one heart on the king of clubs but still loses a heart for down one.

In fact, West could think along the same lines at Trick Two. If East had five cards in spades, he might have competed to three spades. South would not have overcalled at the level of two with a shaky five-card suit; with 2-4-5-2 pattern, he might have doubled instead.

Don’t wait for trouble. Do your thinking in advance.


Copyright © 2015, Tribune Media Services

About the Author:

Frank Stewart is one of the world's most prolific bridge journalists. He won many tournament events before devoting himself to writing. Frank has published hundreds of magazine and on-line articles. He has written 24 books, among them "Becoming an Expert," "Play Bridge With Me," "Who Has the Queen?" and most recently "Keys to Winning Bridge." In 2014, Frank Stewart received the International Bridge Press Association's Alan Truscott Award. He has been the senior analyst for ACBL-wide Charity and International Fund events since 1980. Frank and his wife, Charlotte, a pediatric speech pathologist, live in Fayette AL. They have a 17-year-old daughter.

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