James Allen, who was an English philosophy and self-help author, wrote, “The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”

At the bridge table, staying calm is much better than getting in a lather. But you also need to think straight and act accordingly, not just do the first thing that comes into your mind.

In today’s deal, for example, how should South play in six spades after West leads a diamond?

North’s two-no-trump response was the Jacoby Forcing Raise: four or more spades and at least game-going strength. South employed Roman Key Card Blackwood to learn that his partner had either one ace and the trump king or two aces.

There is a potential heart loser and a problem in the trump suit. If you have no heart loser, you have a safety play in trumps. (What is that?) If you have heart loser, though, you must play the trumps for no loser. (How?)

Since the heart suit influences the trump suit, declarer should test it first. After winning trick one on the board, declarer should immediately play a heart to his queen.

Here, the finesse wins, so South can afford one spade loser, but not two. The right play is to cash the spade ace. If nothing good happens, declarer plays a card to the dummy and leads a spade toward his queen. However, when the singleton king drops, he is home.

If the heart finesse had lost, South would have taken the spade finesse, hoping that East had king-doubleton.

— Phillip Alder,

NEA Bridge

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