By Frank Stewart
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Every player has a pace he prefers. Some ponder for so long you wonder how deep is the ocean of their mind. I personally like to see a card played every few minutes, but Cy the Cynic is among those who operate with the speed, if not the accuracy, of a machine gun.

"Speed kills," Cy grumbles, "but slow infuriates." No matter how you feel about pace, playing in haste to the first trick is foolhardy. Today's South leaped to a bold slam and was pleased when West led the jack of clubs. East covered dummy's king, and South ruffed and started the hearts: He cashed the ace, ruffed a heart and took the A-Q of trumps.

South would have survived if trumps had split 2-2 but was in trouble when West discarded. South threw a diamond on the queen of clubs and ruffed a club. He ruffed a heart to set up his fifth heart but was stuck in dummy. When he led the ace and a low diamond, West won and led another club, forcing South to ruff with his last trump. East still had a trump, so South went down.

South played as if thinking weren't allowed. If he plans ahead, he will correctly discard a diamond at Trick One instead of ruffing East's ace of clubs. South thereby preserves a vital entry to his hand.

If East leads another club, South discards another diamond, wins in dummy, takes the ace of hearts, ruffs a heart, cashes the A-Q of trumps, ruffs a club and ruffs a heart. He can ruff a club, draw trumps, and win the last three tricks with the K-10 of hearts and ace of diamonds.

North dealer

Both sides vulnerable


S A Q 6 3

H 7

D A J 8 4

C K Q 6 2

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