Lazarus Long, a Robert Heinlein character, said, “Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors and miss.” That is apropos since this is the day by which Americans must have filed their tax returns for 2015.

For two weeks, we have been looking at the few bidding conventions I believe pairs should employ. But it is no use bidding perfectly if you play imperfectly – although if you are always in the best contract, you will be tough to beat.

In today’s deal, how should the play go in four spades? West leads the heart two. East takes the trick with his ace and leads the suit back. West wins, cashes his diamond ace, and shifts to a club. What next?

South’s two-diamond rebid was New Minor Forcing, showing at least game-invitational strength and asking North to describe his hand further. When North indicated three-card spade support, South jumped to game in that suit. Note that in three no-trump, North should immediately lose four hearts and one diamond.

Not that four spades is a walk in the park, since declarer must handle the trump suit without loss. What is the right way to try to do that?

South should win in the dummy and lead the spade jack. He hopes that East holds the king and either defender has 10-doubleton. When East covers, declarer takes the trick and cashes the spade queen. Here, this works.

Notice that if South starts with a low spade from the board (a sensible alternative), East can put up his king! Then South would surely win and lead a spade to dummy’s nine.

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