Unlucky Louie had taken his family on a camping trip.
“It was great,” Louie told us. “We got up at dawn to see the sunrise.”
“I’d say you couldn’t have picked a better time,” Cy the Cynic observed.
Louie’s timing was less perfect when he was declarer at today’s 3NT. Louie won the first heart with the king and let the jack of diamonds ride. East won and returned a heart to the ace. Louie then ran the diamonds and tried a club finesse. West won, and Louie went down two.
It never dawned on Louie that he could make 3NT with better timing. At Trick Two he should lead a spade. If West takes the ace, Louie has three spades and nine tricks in all. If West plays low, dummy wins, and Louie finesses in clubs to assure nine tricks.
If East had the ace of spades and won the first spade to return a heart, Louie would test the spades. If they broke 3-3, he would be home. If not, he could continue with the A-K of clubs and then if necessary a diamond finesse.
Question: You hold: ♠ J 7 54 ♥ AK ♦J 9 ♣ A K J 9 2. With neither side vulnerable, the dealer, at your right, opens three hearts. What do you say?
Answer: Preempts can give you headaches, and this one is major. If you double, you may find a spade fit but risk an unwelcome response of four diamonds from partner. My inclination would be to bid 3NT, hoping partner has his fair share of the missing high cards. I would be ready to apologize.