I continue a series on taking care to count your tricks as declarer. Never try to jump over a chasm in two jumps: Look for a sure way to make your contract. Don’t speculate.
At today’s 3NT, South captured East’s queen of clubs and saw smooth sailing: He had every suit under control. So South next cashed the ace of diamonds — and darkness fell.
When West threw a heart, South let the jack of hearts ride, but East took the queen and led the queen of diamonds. South won and led another heart, but East won, cashed his J-10 of diamonds and led a club to West’s king. Down one.
South was unlucky, but since a 4-0 diamond break would occur one time in 10, his play was speculative. South has six top tricks and can surely get three more. A safe play is to pass the jack of hearts at Trick Two.
If East takes the queen and returns a club to the king (South can handle any other defense), South wins the next club and forces out the ace of hearts to assure an overtrick. Question: You hold: ♠ K6 3 ♥ J9 ♦ AK75 ♣A J 10 9. The dealer, at your right, opens two hearts (a weak two-bid). You double, and your partner bids three clubs. What do you say? Answer: Though your clubs are impressive, you promised support when you doubled. Your strength is about average, and your jack of hearts is a wasted point. Pass. Partner may need everything you have to take nine tricks.