BUDAPEST enjoyed a 35˚ heatwave during the 53rd European Championships. The bridge of the England Open team blew hot and cold.
Here is your columnist blowing cold, in the match against Finland. West led the eight of Spades to East’s Queen. Plan the play in Four Hearts.
At the table, the uninspired declarer won the Ace of Spades, drew trumps in three rounds finishing in dummy and led a Club to the Queen. This lost the West’s King and the contract was doomed.
Say you duck East’s trick one Queen of Spades and finesse the Knave on East’s likely Spade return (there is little danger of West ruffing the second Spade, as that would leave East with a robust six-card suit, with which he’d surely have opened a Weak Two). You now draw trumps in three rounds and, like a beginner, cash your three Aces: Spades, Clubs and Diamonds.
At trick eight, you exit with a second Diamond. East wins the King and leads a second Club (the Knave). You cover with the Queen, but, even though this loses to West’s bare King, he is endplayed, with only Diamonds remaining. You ruff in dummy, shed your third Club from hand and claim your game.
Note that, as so often, the topof-a-doubleton opening lead does not work well (against an inspired declarer). If West leads (say) a Diamond, declarer doesn’t know he has a second Spade trick and will likely lead an early Club to the Queen and go down. I had a chance. And squandered it.
Our second Budapest deal saw England’s David Gold, South, blowing hot against the host nation.
West would have been well advised to lead his partner’s Hearts. Instead, he fished out a risky seven of Diamonds. East would have been well advised to withhold his third-hand-high ten, but that card was wasted, declarer winning the Queen.
At trick two, declarer led a Club to the Knave, East winning the King and returning the five of Diamonds. Declarer won the Ace, crossed to the Knave of Clubs and returned to his Queen, pleased to see the even split and enjoyed the nine, West discarding a Spade (and East a Heart).
Declarer was up to eight tricks, with the Spade finesse (low to the Knave) his obvious chance of a ninth. The trouble was that the Spade finesse was unlikely to succeed, given that East had opened a Weak two and had already turned up with three Clubs to the King. Declarer cashed the Ace of Hearts to learn more, seeing West’s Queen (so East had opened with five).
Declarer led a low Spade to the King and the crunch point had arrived. Did West begin with six Diamonds in a 3-1-6-3 shape, in which case, West had discarded down to two Spades and declarer would have to guess whether he had bared his Queen?
Or did he begin with a 4-1-5-3 shape, in which case, declarer could exit with a third Diamond. Given that this latter shape would enable declarer to succeed whether or not West held the Queen of Spades, declarer exited with the Diamond (how East wished he’d retained his ten).
West could cash his three Diamonds, but, at trick 12, have to lead from Queen-ten of Spades round to declarer’s Ace-knave. Nine tricks.