Find the dis­card that helps part­ner

Cecil Whig - - & & -

By Phillip Alder

Stu­dents will oc­ca­sion­ally ask me this ques­tion: Why use fourth­high­est when it some­times helps de­clarer in­stead of the de­fend­ers?

It is true that all of the de­fend­ers’ meth­ods can be an­a­lyzed by de­clarer, and he may ben­e­fit from the “free” in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, de­fense is so dif­fi­cult that the de­fend­ers just have to ac­cept those bad deals. With no lead­ing or sig­nal­ing agree­ments, many con­tracts would make that could have been de­feated. For ex­am­ple, in this deal, how should the de­fend­ers card to de­feat three no-trump af­ter West leads his fourth-high­est spade seven?

At trick one, East must put his spade jack onto the ta­ble, the bot­tom of equiv­a­lent cards when playing third hand high. (In gen­eral, as­sum­ing a de­fender can af­ford to do it, he plays the top of touch­ing hon­ors -- ex­cept when he is the third hand to play to a trick and is go­ing to put up the high­est card so far played -- he might even take the trick.) South wins with his spade king, leads a club to dummy’s ace, and re­turns a club. What should East dis­card?

It looks tempt­ing to pitch the heart queen, but that isn’t right. East ap­plies the Rule of Eleven to the open­ing lead. Seven from 11 is four. So, there are four spades higher than the seven in the dummy, his hand and de­clarer’s hand com­bined, and he has seen them all: dummy’s nine, his jack and queen, and de­clarer’s king. So, West’s spade suit is ready to run. But West doesn’t know who has the spade queen. East must clar­ify the po­si­tion by dis­card­ing the afore­men­tioned spade queen.

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