Hans Selye, an endocrinologist who was born in Vienna, was raised in Hungary, and held major positions in Prague, Baltimore and Montreal, said, “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”

At the bridge table, playing the right card can convert a negative score into a positive one.

When I watch less experienced players, they so often play the wrong card. Of course, if their partners are paying no attention, it doesn’t matter. But for the next couple of weeks, let’s assume we would like to defeat more contracts.

How should East-West play to beat four spades after West leads the club ace?

In the bidding, North’s jump to four spades was an overbid because South might have had nothing. If North had bid only three spades, South probably would have passed, thinking that his diamonds were worthless, sitting under the opener.

Third hand’s job at trick one is to say whether he does or does not have the club queen, the card touching the two honors promised by partner’s lead. If he has the queen (and no desire for a shift), he typically signals with the highest spot card he can afford. Here, though, he can do even better, playing the queen under partner’s ace. This shows the queen and the jack (or an extremely unlikely – and impossible here – singleton queen).

Now West should continue with a low club to give East the lead for the killing diamond shift.

When you cannot win the trick, (if possible) play the top of touching honors.

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