New Zealand Listener - - DIVERSIONS - by David Bird

West leads the two of hearts against 3NT. Since the other suits are strongly pro­tected, you hold up the ace of hearts un­til the third round. Hearts prove to be 4-3, as was in­di­cated by the fourth-best lead of the two. How should you con­tinue?

The orig­i­nal de­clarer con­tin­ued blithely with the ace and queen of clubs. When West cor­rectly held up the king of clubs, de­clarer was left with a max­i­mum of eight top tricks, even if the di­a­monds split 3-3. He there­fore crossed to the ace of di­a­monds and ran the ten of spades. West won with the spade king and cashed a long heart fol­lowed by the king of clubs. One down!

It is one thing to go down in a con­tract when you have missed a slightly bet­ter line that would have worked. It is quite another to go down when you could have made ab­so­lutely cer­tain of the con­tract by play­ing it the right way! Here de­clarer needed to lead the queen of clubs at

Trick 4. If West cap­tured with the king, pro­ceed­ing to cash his long heart, noth­ing could have pre­vented de­clarer from scor­ing the re­main­ing tricks.

If in­stead West held up the club king, de­clarer could switch to spades to set up the two ex­tra tricks that he needed for game. The dif­fer­ence be­tween this line and the one orig­i­nally cho­sen is that by re­tain­ing the ace of clubs, de­clarer can avoid los­ing a club trick when West de­cides to hold up the club king.

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