Test your play


1. You are de­clarer with the West hand at Seven Di­a­monds, and North leads the jack of hearts. How would you play the hand?

2. You are de­clarer with the West hand at Three Notrump, and North leads the three of spades. How would you play the hand?

1. Win the heart with the ace and dis­card the ace of spades on it! Then play the K-Q of spades, dis­card­ing two clubs. There is a 93% chance of the op­pos­ing spades di­vid­ing ei­ther 4-3 or 5-2, which is all you need for this line of play to suc­ceed.

It would be wrong to play the ace of hearts at trick one and dis­card a club, leav­ing you to rely on ei­ther a suc­cess­ful club fi­nesse (a 50% chance) or, even worse, on the hope that cash­ing the A-K of clubs at some later stage would drop the queen.

2. It would be a mis­take to win the spade lead with the ace, cash the king of di­a­monds, then cross to dummy’s king of spades in the hope of find­ing the miss­ing di­a­monds di- vided 3-2. This would amount to stak­ing the out­come solely on a favourable di­a­mond di­vi­sion. While it is true that the di­a­monds are likely to be di­vided 3-2, there is no need to put all your eggs in this one bas­ket.

A bet­ter line of play is to win with the ace of spades, lead the king of di­a­monds and over­take it with dummy’s ace! Then cash the queen of di­a­monds to see whether both de­fend­ers fol­low suit. If they do, you can play a third di­a­mond, thereby as­sur­ing 10 tricks (two spades, a heart, six di­a­monds and a club).

If the di­a­monds turn out to be di­vided 4-1, lead a club from dummy at trick four, plan­ning to fi­nesse if South fol­lows low. This gives you a chance to es­tab­lish your club suit and make four notrump if South has any of the fol­low­ing club hold­ings: the sin­gle­ton king or queen; the dou­ble­ton K-Q, K-x or Q-x; the triple­ton K-Q-x; or all four low clubs.

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