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

This hand cropped up in a coun­try congress and has an ev­ery­day theme with a lit­tle kink. South is be­tween a 1NT and a 2NT opener and so opens 1D in­tend­ing to jump to 2NT over a ma­jor suit re­sponse but when North re­sponds 1NT, South sim­ply bids 3NT since it is clear that there is no eight card ma­jor fit and there is noth­ing ob­vi­ously wrong with a no trump con­tract. West leads the clear-cut, fourth-best seven of spades and South takes the queen with the king. With only seven top tricks, de­clarer must tackle the clubs since it is the only sin­gle suit which might pro­vide enough tricks for the con­tract. While it would be nice to play the king and run the nine, there is only one side en­try to dummy so de­clarer needs to over­take the nine with the jack. When de­clarer cashes the ace of clubs, the queen does not drop since the clubs are not 3-3. Thus de­clarer must turn to the red suits for a ninth trick.

Should de­clarer try a di­a­mond fi­nesse which is bet­ter than 50 per cent, be­cause of all the black cards that West holds, or play for the 3-3 heart break which is worse than its usual 36 per cent for the same rea­son? What do you think?

The an­swer is that this is a com­mon theme of com­bin­ing the chances of a 3-3 split and a fi­nesse for a king but with a slight dif­fer­ence be­cause of the lack of en­tries to ta­ble. Al­though de­clarer is on ta­ble af­ter the ace of clubs was cashed, the cor­rect ac­tion is to test the hearts. Nor­mally, one cashes the hon­ours in the short hold­ing first but here, it is nec­es­sary to cash the ace and king of hearts and then the queen of hearts. Al­though the hearts are now blocked, de­clarer does know if the hearts are 3-3 or not. If they are, sim­ply cross to the ace of di­a­monds and enjoy the thir­teenth heart. If they are not 3-3 then de­clarer is forced to take the sim­ple di­a­mond fi­nesse by play­ing up to the queen. Fail­ure to com­bine the chances will lead to that most ig­no­min­ious of fates of los­ing to an off­side sin­gle­ton king!

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