Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PUZZLES - with DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

NS had a sim­ple auc­tion to 3NT on the hand shown. Since there was no use of Stay­man, West in­ferred that a ma­jor suit lead would be best and led the 10H from his longer ma­jor. De­clarer was happy to take what he saw as a free fi­nesse in hearts, and played the jack from dummy. When East cov­ered with the queen, the con­tract could no longer be made, no mat­ter what de­clarer did next.

Let’s see how the play went. De­clarer ducked the queen of hearts, won the next heart and knocked out the ace of clubs. Af­ter West won that, he knocked out de­clarer’s last heart stop­per. All would have been well if East had held the ace of di­a­monds. How­ever, as West had started with both mi­nor- suit aces, de­clarer lost three hearts and two aces for one down.

So what should de­clarer have done? It is clear to plan for three club tricks, two di­a­mond tricks and two in each ma­jor to pro­vide nine tricks. The key is to avoid los­ing three hearts and two aces while set­ting up the mi­nor suit win­ners.

De­clarer should have played low from dummy at trick one and won the king of hearts in hand. Fol­low­ing the plan for nine tricks, de­clarer should at­tack clubs. If East holds the ace of clubs, he will not be able to con­tinue hearts prof­itably, since he would be lead­ing into dummy’s ace- jack tenace giv­ing de­clarer three stop­pers and only two losers even if the hearts are 5- 2. As the cards lie, West will win with the ace of clubs and lead an­other heart. Only now should de­clarer fi­nesse the jack of hearts which loses to the queen. This does not mat­ter now be­cause East be­gan with only two hearts and can­not con­tinue the suit. If East be­gan with three hearts, the suit would be 4- 3 and there would not be a third heart loser. The best East can do is to shift to a spade. De­clarer wins and now at­tacks the di­a­monds to gain two tricks in that suit. As de­clarer still has a heart stop­per at that point, the con­tract can­not be de­feated. The only time this plan fails is when West has cho­sen to lead a dou­ble­ton heart and East be­gan with five hearts to the queen and the ace of di­a­monds.

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