Montreal Gazette



“So long as war is not prevented, all the government­s of the nations have to prepare for war, and if you have to prepare ... you are in a state where you cannot abolish war.” — Albert Einstein

Yesterday's deal was about keeping a defender off play to prevent him from cashing winners. Today's example focuses on averting a lead through a tenace. Four spades here seems to hinge on either East holding the club ace or West the heart queen, but there are hidden extra chances.

Declarer wins the opening lead with the diamond ace (to hide the position there) and plays the spade king. East takes his ace and returns a second diamond. East's pardonable failure to shift to a club has given declarer an extra chance. He wins the diamond king and then ruffs a diamond with dummy's spade 10. What next?

Declarer only needs three heart tricks for his contract, but he really wants to keep East off lead. Finessing the heart jack seems obvious, but it is better to lead a heart to the nine, increasing the odds of creating a third heart trick while keeping East off lead. Declarer still makes on almost all the 3-3 heart splits, or when West has the heart queen without the 10, or whenever East has queen-doubleton or singleton, or even when East has the queen-10 of hearts and neglects to put in the 10. If all else fails, declarer can still fall back on the clubs.

On this occasion, a heart to the nine loses to the 10, but declarer can regain the lead, draw trumps and cash the heart king and ace. When the suit breaks 3-3, declarer is home free. Yes, East should have switched to a club when in with the spade ace (perhaps a good hand for suit preference in the trump suit); however, you must exploit your opponents' errors!

ANSWER: Pass. You would certainly double facing an unpassed hand, but there is less upside here. The danger of giving away informatio­n in the play by acting or exposing your side to a sizable penalty does not outweigh the gain from competing the part-score as safely and fast as possible. If your side can make anything, partner is still there.

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