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