The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - FACTS & ARGUMENTS - BY STEVE BECKER Daily horo­scopes at­scopes

1. You are de­clarer with the West hand at Four Spades.

North leads the di­a­mond two. South cashes the A-K and shifts to the four of hearts. How would you play the hand?

2. You are de­clarer with the West hand at Six Clubs, and North leads the jack of hearts. How would you play the hand?

1. There is much more to the play here than meets the ca­sual eye. Oddly enough, you should play the three of hearts on South’s four! To play the king or queen amounts to giv­ing up on the hand.

Let’s see why. You start by as­sum­ing that South has the king of spades, since you can­not make the con­tract un­less he has that card. But once you make this as­sump­tion, it fol­lows that South can­not also have the ace of hearts, as he would not have passed orig­i­nally with the A-K of di­a­monds, the king of spades – which cir­cum­stances com­pel you to as­sign him – and the ace of hearts.

Your only real chance, there­fore, is that South has the J-10-x or J-10-x-x of hearts, in which case your low heart play will force North’s ace with­out wast­ing your king or queen. To play an hon­our on South’s four would be tan­ta­mount to con­ced­ing de­feat with­out at­tempt­ing to avoid it.

2. Win the heart, draw trumps and cash the ace of di­a­monds. If both op­po­nents fol­low suit, the slam can be as­sured by lead­ing an­other di­a­mond and play­ing low from dummy! This guards against a 4-1 di­a­mond di­vi­sion and guar­an­tees 12 tricks.

If you play the queen on the sec­ond round of di­a­monds and the suit di­vides 4-1, you’ll have to fall back on a spade fi­nesse. It would be wrong to sub­ject your­self to that risk when con­ced­ing a di­a­mond trick gives you a sure thing. True, this will cost you 20 points more of­ten than not, but that is a very tiny premium to pay for en­sur­ing the slam.

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