ACES ON BRIDGE
This week’s deals are based on overtaking plays, today’s example showcasing the most prosaic motive for the technique.
South’s short-suit honors justify his decision to treat his hand as balanced by opening two no-trump. Today, opening one diamond would probably have led to his reaching the cold diamond game.
West attacks from length, choosing a low card to unblock the suit in case East has honor-doubleton. Declarer has eight tricks on top and, given time, could work on the diamonds for more, but this lead has hit his weak spot — the defense would come to three spades and two diamonds before declarer could garner nine tricks. So, South should play on hearts. A 3-3 split would work, but declarer should look to augment his chances further than that 1-in-3 shot.
South takes the lead in hand, leaving the spade king as the entry to dummy’s hearts, then leads out the heart king. When the eight drops on his right, an additional chance arises. Declarer overtakes the queen on the next round and, with the appearance of the heart jack as well, can then drive out the heart 10 to establish the long heart. By the way, the defenders would do well to drop the heart eight, then the heart 10 (or jack) from a three-card holding here, as would East from an original holding of the doubleton eight, to encourage the overtaking play. If no significant cards dropped, declarer would have no choice but to play for an even split and make an overtrick.
“Haste maketh waste.” — John Heywood
ANSWER: Declarer is surely prepared for a diamond lead, which could easily give a trick away. Partner will not have much ammunition, and you should therefore lead passively from your small clubs. The seven is best, a high card to try to make it clear that you have no interest in the suit.