Stanislaw Leszczynski, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire who died in 1766, said, “To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.”

In bridge, you prefer a certain line of play, but often guesswork will be required. In this deal, for example, South is in four hearts. What should he do after West leads a low spade?

I like North’s one-no-trump rebid, showing hand type and strength as quickly as possible. Yes, if South has to pass, North-South might miss a preferable spade contract. But that is unlikely, and keeping the defenders in the dark about North’s spade length could prove beneficial.

At one table, where West led the diamond king (ace, nine, two), South was torn. He could see the threatened diamond ruff, but to cash the heart ace and king risked losing two trump tricks if a defender had started with queen-fourth. Instead, declarer took the trump-suit percentage play of cashing his ace, crossing to dummy with a spade and running the heart 10. However, disaster struck. West won with his queen, cashed the diamond queen and gave East a diamond ruff. Then East tabled the club ace to defeat the contract.

When the lead is a spade, though, South should have no problems. He takes that trick and immediately plays a club to drive out the ace. Here, if East perseveres in spades, everything works for declarer. If East shifts to the diamond nine, South wins that on the board and discards his remaining diamonds on the club queen-jack. Then he can afford to run the heart 10.

© 2017 United Feature Syndicate