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West plays in 3Nt. North leads ♠ 5, won by south’s

♠ A, who returns ♠ J, on which North plays ♠ 2. How do you plan to make the contract?

Most people who have just learned to play bridge say that their greatest difficulty in practice is having to be declarer and playing the dummy.

the declarer always starts with a tactical advantage over his opponents, insofar as he is immediatel­y able to co-ordinate the resources of his own and his partner’s hands. When he loses this advantage, it is often because of a failure to plan his play.

the first thing declarer should do when his dummy goes down is to decide which line of play will give him the best chance of making his contract. the above problem is a simple illustrati­on of the importance of this rule.

From the opening lead, it appears that North has got five spades, therefore south has three. You can see an immediate danger if North can get in to make his extra spades before you have establishe­d your nine tricks.

the key cards which have to be removed from the opposition before you can safely make your contract are the ♦ K and the ♥ A. so now you have to consider whether it makes any difference which suit you tackle first.

If you play diamonds and the king is offside, south will win and return a spade to knock out your last entry in the suit; then, if North turns up with the ♥ A, you are going to end up with only eight tricks.

Reverse the sequence by knocking out the ♥ A first, and you will see that there is now no way for North to get his spade suit establishe­d in time.

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