“Sim­ple Satur­day” columns are meant to help as­pir­ing play­ers im­prove tech­nique and de­velop log­i­cal think­ing.

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Frank Ste­wart

The ABCs of good de­clarer play are han­dling com­bi­na­tions of cards cor­rectly. For ex­am­ple, with A 10 op­po­site K Q 4 3 2, the per­cent­age play for five tricks (con­sid­er­ing the suit alone, maybe not in the con­text of a full deal) is a fi­nesse with the ten.

How would you play to­day’s 3NT when West leads the jack of hearts? You have seven top tricks and need two more in clubs.

Say you lead a club to dummy’s king. If West has, say, A-10-7, you can get three club tricks and make an over­trick. But as the cards lie, East takes the ace, and the 4-1 break holds you to one club trick and only eight tricks in all.

Since you need only two clubs to make 3NT, start by play­ing a low club from both hands, guard­ing against the sin­gle­ton ace with East. If both de­fend­ers played low, you would lead low to the king later, win­ning two clubs when­ever the lie of the cards al­lowed.

Daily Ques­tion: You hold: & J1097h 863 ( QJ1092 $ A. Your part­ner opens one heart. The next player passes. What do you say?

An­swer: This case is close. You have eight high-card points, but your hand is worth more. Since you have heart sup­port, your sin­gle­ton club may be valu­able. A tem­po­riz­ing one-spade re­sponse be­fore sup­port­ing the hearts would be rea­son­able. I would set­tle for a raise to two hearts. When your trump sup­port is weak, tend to­ward con­ser­vatism.

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