The Herald (South Africa) - - LEISURE - By B Jay and Steve Becker

There are plays that are dif­fi­cult for a de­clarer to make be­cause they run com­pletely con­trary to stan­dard pro­ce­dure. But bridge be­ing the kind of game it is, there is room for an oc­ca­sional de­vi­a­tion from the norm -- es­pe­cially when logic in­di­cates that the de­vi­a­tion has ev­ery­thing to gain and noth­ing to lose.

Take this case where West led the four of di­a­monds against three notrump, and East won with the king. East re­turned the di­a­mond nine, cov­ered by de­clarer with the queen, where­upon West made the em­i­nently cor­rect play of the three.

West’s only hope was that East would later gain the lead and re­turn a third di­a­mond be­fore de­clarer could score nine tricks. East’s re­turn of the nine in­di­cated he did not have four di­a­monds orig­i­nally, as in that case he would have re­turned his orig­i­nal fourth-best di­a­mond. De­clarer’s most likely di­a­mond hold­ing, there­fore, was Q-J-x-x.

Lack­ing a ninth trick, South now tried a club fi­nesse. East won with the king and re­turned a di­a­mond, and the con­tract went down one. The ex­cel­lent de­fence notwith­stand­ing, de­clarer did him­self in at trick two when he cov­ered East’s nine of di­a­monds with the queen. In­stead, he should have played the eight on the nine! This ma­noeu­vre would have com­pletely dis­com­bob­u­lated the de­fence. An­other di­a­mond lead by East would have given the de­fend­ers their third trick, and East’s king of clubs would later have scored their fi­nal trick. From de­clarer’s view­point, the di­a­mond duck at trick two guar­an­tees three notrump whether West started with four, five or six di­a­monds. The hard part is to think of it be­fore the queen or jack pops out of de­clarer’s hand.

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