Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WATCH ON PRESTO - with DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

This hand is the kind with which club play­ers strug­gle. The auc­tion was sim­ple, even though it didn’t stop in 3NT, which hap­pens to be the safest game. It seems nor­mal to play 4S in the 5-3 fit. West leads the HQ, East plays HK and you might cover the EW hands and try to plan the play.

The pre­emp­tive over­call has in­creased the like­li­hood of bad breaks, so hop­ing for trumps to split 3-2 and di­a­monds to be 3-3 is go­ing to lead to dis­ap­point­ment. The ques­tion is, which one do you want to han­dle if you can only han­dle one? Con­sid­er­ing the trump suit, a 4-1 split is 28 per cent (and 5-0 is an­other 4 per cent). In­stead, the di­a­monds will be 3-3 only 36 per cent of the time and 4-2 about 48 per cent of the time. It is clear to han­dle the more likely 48 per cent break rather than the 28 per cent break. Thus, the plan must take care of the di­a­mond break first. This re­quires win­ning the heart lead and play­ing a di­a­mond to the ace and then ruff­ing one. Both op­po­nents will fol­low 84 per cent of the time and now it is just a mat­ter of draw­ing trumps.

Clearly, if there were a late en­try to dummy, de­clarer would draw four rounds of trumps to cater for the bad split, but there is no late en­try to­day! The best play is to hope for the 3-2 split, but that hope is dashed on the sec­ond round of trumps. De­clarer must now stop play­ing trumps and run the long di­a­mond suit. When West ruffs in (and it should at the first op­por­tu­nity), there is no good exit card. A trump will be won in dummy and the di­a­monds can then be run. A club re­turn can be won by the king and a third trump to­wards dummy draws West’s last trump and de­clarer can en­joy the long di­a­monds. There are a cou­ple of things to note. The con­tract is, per­haps, a lit­tle lucky that hearts are 7-1 rather than 6-2, but the cor­rect line also takes care of the sim­ple cases when trumps split evenly. Don’t think of the 4-2 di­a­mond split as a bad split, as it is the most com­mon split – and do al­ways try to cater for the 3-3 and 4-2 splits when miss­ing six cards in a suit.

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