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

This hand is from the fi­nal round of a re­cent teams game. The auc­tion was quite var­ied depend­ing on the range of 1NT open­ing be­ing played. When the range was 12- 14, North was not tempted to go be­yond 3NT. When the range was 14- 16, North was of­ten tempted to bid slam. Some bid it di­rectly as my part­ner did but bid­ding a quan­ti­ta­tive 4NT is bet­ter. It should be clear that it is quan­ti­ta­tive since no suit has been bid. The lead was the 6D. Be­ing a high spot this sug­gests that no hon­our is held in the suit and West would play the 7D next to sug­gest an odd num­ber. De­clarer cor­rectly counted the top tricks as one spade, one heart, three di­a­monds and three clubs. The op­tions for ex­tra tricks were two or three more spade tricks depend­ing on the fi­nesse; one more club trick if they were 3- 2 or the jack came down early and one more heart trick if West held the king. De­clarer has to try and com­bine all these chances. The club op­tion should be tried last since it does not in­volve los­ing the lead. The spade op­tion is first since it of­fers the most ex­tra tricks. So de­clarer wins the di­a­mond trick in hand and tries the spade fi­nesse. This might need to be taken three times so we start with a high card. There is a wrin­kle here. If you start with the 10S, West will usu­ally let it run to part­ner’s hoped- for jack. When the 10 wins, de­clarer continues with the jack but, when it is cov­ered, finds the lead in the wrong hand for the heart play un­less the ace of clubs is used and this gives up on one of the 4- 1 splits. In a po­si­tion like this, it is cor­rect to lead the jack to at­tract the cover with the king and wrong to lead the 10. When the jack is cov­ered, you can re­turn to hand with the 10S and try a heart to the queen be­fore fall­ing back on the clubs. You might eas­ily not get four club tricks here if you don’t play the KQC first and there is no ob­vi­ous rea­son why you should do this. If the spade fi­nesse fails, you will go down but then there is no route to 12 tricks in this in­dif­fer­ent slam.

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