The Province

BRIDGE with Tannah Hirsch


South realized that he needed tricks from the diamond suit, so he captured East’s queen of hearts with the king at trick one and immediatel­y took the diamond finesse. This lost to East’s king, and the heart return quickly defeated the contract.

South was certainly unlucky. Not only was the diamond king offside, but the hearts split 5-2. Had East’s second heart been the 10, the suit would have been hopelessly blocked when South withheld his jack on the second round. The contract would have been safe had the hearts split either 4-3 or 6-1, but a safe contract doesn’t require a good declarer.

South should have taken precaution­s against this lie of the cards. He should have made the simple but elegant play of allowing the queen of hearts to hold the first trick! This would scissor the communicat­ions between the defenders. West can establish his long hearts, but he has no entry to cash them. This play might cost declarer an extra overtrick, but 10 tricks, and the contract, would be secure.

There is a remote possibilit­y that West has led from two low hearts and East has played the queen from acequeen-10-x-x. Should this be the case, South must win the first heart. This defense is not only diabolical, it is so remote that it cannot be considered when planning the play. Besides, players capable of a defense like this would be off somewhere practicing for the World Championsh­ips, not tormenting you!

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