Bridge by Steve Becker

If you look at all four hands, it isn’t easy to see how declarer can possibly go down in three notrump. He seems certain to score two clubs, two diamonds, a heart and, because of the lucky 3-3 spade division, four spades for a total of nine tricks.

Yet, as reported by the great Australian star Tim Seres, South failed to make the contract. Not only that, but in winding up with only eight tricks, it’s hard to prove that declarer did anything really wrong!

West started by leading the diamond ten from his virtually worthless collection, hoping to strike his partner’s long suit. As it happened, West was successful in his aim, but this was not the real cause of South’s undoing.

Declarer took the diamond lead with the ace and tested the spades by cashing the A-K. Had East woodenly followed suit, there would have been no tale to tell. But when the two top spades were cashed, East followed with the ten and jack!

South naturally assumed that West had both missing spades, so he next led the four of spades to his nine. He then played the king of hearts, hoping the opponent with the ace would win the trick and thereby provide him with an entry to the queen of spades.

But East had not come this far to make things easy for declarer. He did not take his ace, leaving South with no choice but to lead a second heart toward the Q-10. When West followed low, South finessed the ten, losing to East’s jack. Not long after that, declarer finished down one.

In summarizing the deal, Seres cited the basic principle of defense that East had followed: When you see that declarer is bound to succeed by normal play, you should look for a way to present him with a losing alternative.

Tomorrow: A delectable concoction.

King Features Syndicate Inc.