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

This hand was the sec­ond last board in a GNOT re­gional qual­i­fier and was lit­er­ally go­ing to de­cide who would go to the na­tional fi­nal in Syd­ney. South opened a 22-23 2NT and North checked for a four card ma­jor fit be­fore bid­ding the no trump slam. West some­how found the JS lead which no­body is go­ing to read eas­ily! As with all slams, it be­hooves de­clarer to make a max­i­mum ef­fort to suc­ceed. The QS was put up and held.

How would you con­tinue as de­clarer? There are six black tricks, three heart tricks and two cer­tain di­a­mond tricks so you have to play di­a­monds for three tricks or find some sort of squeeze. There are slight en­try prob­lems al­though you will have two club en­tries to ta­ble if they split. De­clarer tried the QD at trick two but this was cov­ered by the king and ace. He then tried jack and an­other di­a­mond and would win if they are 3-3 or there is a dou­ble­ton 10 which is about 52%. Was this a good line?

Lead­ing the queen is not good. Al­ways try to lead small cards to­wards high cards. The best play is small to the nine and, when that holds, it is all too easy. If the nine loses, you want to go back to ta­ble to lead a small one to the jack but when the ace-queen of clubs are cashed and there is only one en­try to dummy. It seems best to un­block the ace­queen of hearts and the jack of clubs and then play a small di­a­mond to the queen and king. There is still a prob­lem since the a pri­ori 3-3 split is now much more likely than the 2-4 split (4-2 is no longer pos­si­ble when East fol­lows to the third di­a­mond). How­ever, since you will have played four rounds of clubs and three rounds of hearts, West will have dis­carded three spades on the clubs and de­clarer might smell out the di­a­mond po­si­tion. How­ever, there is an­other temp­ta­tion: the safety play to max­i­mize your chance of three tricks is a first round fi­nesse of the jack but this may lead to play­ing the di­a­monds be­fore the clubs and not get­ting a hint about their dis­tri­bu­tion. That JS lead was lit­tle less than de­monic!

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