The Marquis de Vauvenargues, a French moralist, stated that great thoughts come from the heart. Presumably he felt that thoughts and emotions are interconnected. However, at the bridge table we should try to stop our emotions from clouding our thoughts, our judgment.

In today’s deal, South spotted the critical snippet of information that provided the key to success. Against the contract of three no-trump, West led the heart five. What was South’s plan?

First, he tried dummy’s heart jack; maybe West had underled the king-queen. However, East produced the queen. It would have been nice to duck two rounds of hearts, trying to cater to a 5-3 division with East’s having the diamond ace. But declarer realized if he did that, and his opponents switched to spades, he would almost certainly fall to defeat, losing one diamond, two hearts and at least two spades.

So South won the first trick and immediately dislodged the diamond ace. East won with the ace, and the defenders took their three heart tricks. Then they exited in spades.

Declarer ran his diamonds, learning that West had a singleton. Then South cashed dummy’s club ace, played a club to his king and finessed dummy’s club 10 successfully to land the contract.

“Nice guess,” said North.

“Not really,” explained South. “I knew West had started with four hearts and one diamond. If he had five spades and three clubs, surely he would have led a spade, not a heart. He must have had four cards in each black suit and an initial 4=4=1=4 distribution. Hence my play in clubs.” Thoughtful.