There is no royal road to good bridge. In many deals, one has to sweat and strain to achieve the best result, and anyone who thinks otherwise is sure to suffer painful disappointments from time to time.
For example, if declarer in this deal follows the lazy man’s route of placing all his hopes for making six clubs on winning one of the black-suit finesses, he winds up down one. True, he has a 3-1 chance of making the slam by trying both finesses, but he has another method of play available that can significantly improve his chances.
South should win the heart lead in dummy, cash the A-K of diamonds, discarding two spades, and ruff a diamond with the ten of clubs. Now, having learned that the diamonds are divided 4-3, he is practically certain to make the slam.
His next play should be the three of clubs! This unusual play gives him the extra entry he needs to establish dummy’s diamonds.
Let’s say West goes up with the queen of clubs and returns the ten of hearts. Declarer wins with the queen, leads the seven of trumps to the nine and ruffs a diamond with the jack.
After drawing West’s last trump, he crosses to dummy with a heart, discards the queen of spades on the nine of diamonds and so chalks up the vulnerable slam.
The suggested line of play
is a bit more complicated than relying strictly on East to have the queen of clubs or king of spades, and finessing against either or both of them. But that is not a good enough reason for disregarding the possibility of establishing dummy’s diamonds -- even though it takes a little more sweat to accomplish the mission.
Tomorrow: Second thoughts