When you uncover a good trump fit in an auction where both sides compete, you should apply the Law of Total Tricks. It is usually correct to bid for at least as many tricks as your side has trumps. So with nine trumps between you, take the bidding at least to the three-level. If you fail to win nine tricks, the penalty usually proves to be less than the maximum the opponents could have scored in their optimum contract.

Today’s South followed this principle.

Knut Blakset
Knut Blakset

East’s double of two diamonds was «responsive.» It announced that East had sufficient values to bid but had no clear-cut bid available. South, knowing his partner wouldn’t bid two diamonds with fewer than four trumps, raised to three diamonds despite holding a minimum opening. Then the declarer, Knut Blakset of Denmark, justified his bidding with an excellent piece of card-reading.

East won the club lead with the king and returned a trump. Would you finesse or go up with your ace?

The percentage play is to finesse, but Blakset stopped to work out the distribution of the missing honors. East was marked with the A-K of clubs and a high heart honor. (If West held the A-K of hearts, surely he would have led a top heart.) West must have had the other honors to justify his takeout double. Declarer put up the di-amond ace, West grudgingly dropping the king. Blakset lost one club, one spade and two heart tricks. East could have made life much harder for South if he had won the first trick with the club ace rather than the king. True, it would have misled West, but that couldn’t matter here.