Test your de­fen­sive play

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - PUZZLES, CARTOONS & COLUMNIST GWEN - Steve Becker

You are West, de­fend­ing against Four Spades, and this is what you see after lead­ing the king of hearts:

South wins your king-of-hearts lead with the ace, East play­ing the five, and cashes the A-K-10 of spades, East fol­low­ing with the 4-2-6. On a low club lead from dummy, East plays the four and de­clarer the king. How would you de­fend? *** You have to don your think­ing cap se­curely for this one. The first prob­lem is whether to win the club, but be­fore de­cid­ing this, you should try to work out what kind of hand de­clarer must hold for the con­tract to be de­feated. You start by brush­ing aside those hands where the con­tract is in­de­fen­si­ble. You can’t win by con­ced­ing de­feat. All your thoughts should be fo­cused on hands where South might have four losers. You know from the bid­ding and East’s high-low in trumps (in­di­cat­ing three of them) that South started with six trumps. He there­fore has 10 tricks – six spades, two clubs, a heart and a di­a­mond – after you take the ace of clubs, as­sum­ing you give him a chance to cash them.

How­ever, you may be able to score four tricks be­fore South can score 10 -- if the cards are di­vided as you must hope they are. Since you are ob­vi­ously lim­ited to one trick in clubs and one in di­a­monds, your only chance is to win two heart tricks. This is pos­si­ble in only one case, namely, if East started with specif­i­cally the J-5 of hearts. Since this is your only hope, you should de­fend on that ba­sis. Ac­cord­ingly, you win the club at trick five and re­turn a low heart. You are re­warded when East wins with the jack and re­turns a di­a­mond to your ace, and you cash the queen of hearts to set the con­tract.

In the ac­tual deal, South had ♠ QJ9873 A82 ] Q5 K3 and was ♥ ♦ ♣ de­feated by the low heart re­turn.

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