Some bridge players try to be leaders all the time, taking control even when they shouldn’t – as happened in today’s deal.
Played at Bridge Base Online, South had a borderline opening bid with such a weak suit. Even if partner responded with two diamonds (two-over-one game-forcing), South had an unappealing rebid.
Here, North responded two hearts. Then several Souths rebid two spades, which was awful. Why not two no-trump?
Over three clubs, South liked his four-card support, but the rest of his hand stank. Understandably, he continued with three no-trump. Then North pondered for a while, but finally passed.
After West led the diamond jack, South saw six top tricks: four hearts and two diamonds. He could hope for a fifth heart winner, but it looked as though he needed to play clubs for only one loser. So, after winning with his diamond queen, declarer led a club to the queen.
If East had just won that trick and passively returned a diamond, South would have had to guess clubs. However, wishing to plow his own furrow, East shifted to a spade.
West won that trick and reverted to diamonds, but now South had nine winners: one spade, five hearts, two diamonds and one club.
Playing second fiddle is often best.
Phillip Alder is a longtime New York Times bridge columnist and has taught competitive and recreational bridge to people and teams at all levels for more than 30 years.