Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Puzzles, Cartoons & Gwen - Steve Becker

ily catch an un­wary de­clarer nap­ping -- which is ex­actly what hap­pened in a na­tional team event a few years ago.

Both Souths reached three notrump as shown, and both Wests led a low heart. At the first ta­ble, South played low from dummy and took East’s 10 with the jack. De­clarer then led the 10 of di­a­monds and fi­nessed after West fol­lowed low.

East won with the king and re­turned a heart, taken by West’s king. West then re­turned a third heart to drive out the ace. At this point, de­clarer had eight tricks – four di­a­monds, two hearts, a club and a spade. When he later tried for a ninth by tak­ing a club fi­nesse, West won and cashed two more hearts to score a one-trick set.

At the other ta­ble, de­clarer did not fancy los­ing a di­a­mond fi­nesse to East and a sub­se­quent club fi­nesse to West, and then pos­si­bly be­ing done in by West’s hearts. As­sum­ing that West had the heart king – cer­tainly rea­son­able given his lead – there was a de-

cided ad­van­tage in tak­ing the club fi­nesse first. South there­fore put up dummy’s queen of hearts at trick one and tried the club fi­nesse. West took the queen with the king, but was then stymied. A heart re­turn would go into de­clarer’s A-J, while a spade shift cov­ered by the 10, queen and ace would es­tab­lish a spade stop­per in dummy. Re­gard­less of what West re­turned, de­clarer could next at­tempt the di­a­mond fi­nesse in com­plete safety, and the game was as­sured.

Although the play of the heart queen from dummy at trick one is clearly cor­rect un­der the cir­cum­stances, note that West was vir­tu­ally cer­tain to have the heart king. By ap­ply­ing the Rule of Eleven to the open­ing lead of the four – fourth-best – de­clarer could cal­cu­late that East had only one card higher than the card led. That card could scarcely be the king, since that would have given West the 10-9-8-4-(x), in which case he would have led the 10.

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