Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TODAY'S PICK - with DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

Find­ing miss­ing queens is a big part of de­clarer play. It’s sim­ple when there is a fi­ness­ing po­si­tion. When there is no fi­nesse avail­able, things can be more dif­fi­cult for both de­clarer and the de­fend­ers. Let us look at a few po­si­tions and we as­sume the long hold­ing is hid­den in de­clarer’s hand.

Firstly, J53 op­po­site AK642: if de­clarer needs five tricks from this suit then it is nec­es­sary to play off the ace and king and find some­one with the queen dou­ble­ton. If de­clarer only needs four tricks then the safety play is the ace and then small to the jack. This suc­ceeds in all 3-2 breaks, any 4-1 split with sin­gle­ton queen and any 4-1 split where South has the length. That’s all sim­ple, or is it? Let’s try J53 op­po­site K7642: the only time de­clarer can make 4 tricks is if AQ dou­ble­ton is on­side so it is clear to play small to the king. If the king wins with­out the queen ap­pear­ing, duck in both hands next. If the king loses, lead up to the jack next. Let’s look at it from the de­fend­ers’ point of view now.

With three suits hav­ing been bid, South de­cides to lead the 4H from the un­bid suit. De­clarer plays a spade to the ace and a diamond to the king. Now a small diamond to­wards the jack, leaves South with a dilemma: which of the hold­ings does East have? If it’s the AK, then South must rise or lose the queen. If it is just the king then South must duck to let part­ner win the ace. Are there any clues? Yes, De­clarer has shown the KD, the QH and surely the KS when play­ing small to the ace. If he also had the AD, he would bid 2NT (or 3NT) and not 1NT. Hence, it is cor­rect for South to duck here. When North wins and plays a heart, the con­tract is easily beaten. Note also that with AK of di­a­monds, de­clarer might just cash the ace and lead small to the jack lead­ing to another prob­lem since this is how to play Jxx op­po­site Axxxx and in that case South needs to duck to North’s king to get the next heart led through. Since only three diamond tricks are needed, East might start with small to the jack at trick 2.

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