Beat the point-count tom-tom again

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Mary-Ellen Kelly, a natur­o­pathic doc­tor, said, “Na­tives who beat drums to drive off evil spir­its are ob­jects of scorn to smart Amer­i­cans who blow horns to break up traf­fic jams.” Re­cently, I have been beat­ing one par­tic­u­lar drum, the best in­stru­ment for turn­ing you into a much bet­ter player. What is it, and how does it ap­ply in this deal?

West leads the di­a­mond nine against four hearts. East wins with his jack, cashes the di­a­mond ace and di­a­mond king, then leads the di­a­mond queen. How should South con­tinue?

In the auc­tion, North just shut his eyes and jumped straight to four hearts. Yes, this might have missed a slam if South had a sin­gle­ton (or void) in di­a­monds, but that was un­likely. South needs the rest of the tricks. Who has the heart queen? If it is West, de­clarer must ruff the fourth di­a­mond with his heart king, then fi­nesse through West. But if East has that trump honor, South needs to ruff with his heart nine or jack, play a heart to dummy’s ace, and, if nec­es­sary, fi­nesse through East. What is the key clue?

Beat the point-count tom-toms! South has 14, and dummy holds 13. That leaves only 13 points for East and West, but East had enough to open. He surely holds the heart queen. (Yes, play­ers will oc­ca­sion­ally open with 11 points, es­pe­cially when bid­ding a long suit, but do not base your play on that as­sump­tion.) De­clarer ruffs the fourth di­a­mond with his heart nine, plays a heart to dummy’s ace, re­turns a heart to his jack, cashes the heart king, and claims.

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