ACES ON BRIDGE
Opening Lead: Club jack
“All things which can be known have number; for it is not possible that without number anything can either be conceived or known.” — Philolaus
Counting is the key in today’s hand. Upon hearing a simple raise, South makes a brave leap to game. The defenders begin by taking two club tricks, and South ruffs the third round high in order to shut out an overruff.
South draws trumps and knocks out the heart ace, after which the contract depends on finessing for the diamond queen in the correct direction.
The solution of the expert in this situation is to count out the enemy hands. South knows that East began with six clubs. East had only one spade, and since both opponents followed to all three rounds of hearts, South knows that East started with three or four hearts.
South knows that East holds no more than three diamonds, but he may hold only two. This means that West must hold at least four diamonds, and he may have five.
Declarer cannot be sure which opponent has the diamond queen, but it is logical to assume that the diamond queen is with the player with greater length in the suit. If West has four diamonds, the odds are four to three that West has the queen; and if West has five diamonds, then the odds become five to two that West has the queen. In either case, a finesse through West is indicated. South plays a diamond to the jack and makes his game.
If South decided to play by guesswork instead of by probability, he would have only a 50% chance of succeeding. It is better to make the odds-on play than to have only an even chance.
ANSWER: Lead the spade two. It often pays to lead aggressively when declarer has preempted, normally showing weakness in the side suits. A spade is not likely to blow a trick, and it may help the defense cash or set up winners. It would be unlucky to catch East with a high spade, so leading a spade is not likely to do anything that declarer cannot do for himself.