The Herald (South Africa) - - Leisure - B Jay & Steve Becker

The best way of ap­proach­ing the play of most suit con­tracts is to start by count­ing losers. Ap­ply­ing this rule to the present case, you note that South has a loser in each suit. Since los­ing four tricks at four spades means down one, you nat­u­rally look for a way to avoid los­ing one of those tricks. The most ob­vi­ous way of at­tempt­ing to pick up a trick im­me­di­ately is to put up dummy’s jack of di­a­monds on the open­ing lead, hop­ing West has led away from the queen. Un­for­tu­nately, East pro­duces the queen, which you win with the ace. The next step is to try to de­velop an ex­tra heart trick where only one presently ex­ists. If you suc­ceed, you might even­tu­ally be able to get rid of one of your mi­nor-suit losers on dummy’s ace of hearts. How­ever, the ex­tra heart trick can be gained only by lead­ing a heart from dummy to­ward your queen, and this re­quires first get­ting there to make the play. Ac­cord­ingly, you lead the five of spades to the nine at trick two. East takes the ace and re­turns a di­a­mond. You win with the king and lead the six of spades to the 10, not­ing with sat­is­fac­tion that both op­po­nents fol­low suit. Now comes the low heart from dummy. East takes the king, cashes a di­a­mond and switches to a club. You win with the ace, cash the queen of hearts, lead your care­fully pre­served deuce of trumps to the three and then dis­card your club loser on the ace of hearts to bring in the con­tract. The en­tire pro­ce­dure re­quires care­ful plan­ning and a mod­er­ate amount of luck. Mak­ing four spades is far from cer­tain at the start, since the out­come de­pends on how the ad­verse cards are di­vided, but by play­ing in the rec­om­mended fash­ion, you at least give your­self some chance for the con­tract.

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