Beat the point-count tom-tom again
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.