Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder


As I stress con­stantly, count­ing losers and win­ners when the dummy first ap­pears is a vi­tal step in ac­cu­rate de­clar­erplay. An ounce of ef­fort then will save a pound of pain later when you go down in a con­tract that you should have made.

In this ex­am­ple, how should South play in four hearts af­ter West leads the spade queen?

South opened with a text­book vul­ner­a­ble weak twobid: a good six-card suit and 6-10 high-card points. North took a shot at game, but if he had used the ar­ti­fi­cial two-no-trump in­quiry, South would have re­bid three no-trump to show a re­ally good suit. Then North could have passed and had nine top tricks: two spades, six hearts and one club.

In four hearts, South has four losers -- one spade, one di­a­mond and two clubs -- and those same nine win­ners. From where might a 10th trick come?

The chance of two club win­ners is very low. In­stead, de­clarer should hope for a 4-3 di­a­mond break and es­tab­lish the di­a­mond jack as a trick. How­ever, that re­quires ruff­ing three times in hand, so South needs four dummy en­tries. Given the spade lead has al­ready re­moved the spade king, these must be the spade ace, both hearts and the club ace. De­clarer must work on di­a­monds im­me­di­ately.

At trick two, he plays a low di­a­mond from the board. Sup­pose East wins with the nine and re­turns his se­cond spade. South wins with the ace, ruffs a di­a­mond, plays a heart to the 10, trumps a di­a­mond, crosses to the heart queen, ruffs a third di­a­mond, and draws trumps. Fi­nally, de­clarer plays a club to the ace and dis­cards a black-suit loser on the di­a­mond jack.

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