A Grain Of Salt
I authored a book entitled A Grain Of Salt (available from Amazon.com and other outlets) in which I caution people to always do their own analyses no matter how authoritative the source might be. This caveat also applies to bridge. Steve Becker’s syndicated column is routinely published in the Seattle Times. Although it is outstanding and contains many useful tips, once in a blue moon the analysis could be better. To wit, the article entitled “rescuing a lost cause” that appeared on August 3, 2012 included the following hand (both vul):
South is declarer at 4H. Opening lead – Jack of spades.
The article goes on to say that when win the opening lead in dummy and lead a trump to your Queen, west shows out. How should you proceed?
Becker’s solution is to cash the Ace and King of spades, pitching a CLUB from the dummy, cash the two remaining clubs, return to your hand with a trump, and ruff your 10♣. This protects against a doubleton club in West’s hand (almost always – the exception is given below), works on the actual layout given in the column, and is a very good line: but it is not best! Do you see how it can be improved?
Answer – Becker’s line fails if West started with 2-5-4-2 distribution (the article gives West 4-5-2-2 distribution), in which case he will pitch a club on the third spade and you will still go down. To guard against this you must cash two rounds of clubs BEFORE playing the third spade. This renders West helpless and you will score five trump tricks plus either two spades and three clubs or three spades and two clubs depending on whether or not East ruffs the third spade.