The Punxsutawney Spirit
NEA Bridge: Let the opponents aid your cause
There are certain suit combinations that you would prefer not to have to play yourself. In these cases, try to force an opponent to lead the suit for you. West opens with a low diamond against four spades. How should South try to get the defenders to find the heart queen for him?
East began with a textbook preemptive opening. South wanted to take a stronger action than a simple jump to four spades, but as North was a passed hand, South decided to hope that there wasn't a slam in their cards. West understandably let the adverse vulnerability dissuade him from sacrificing. However, five diamonds doubled would have cost only 200 points.
Against this declarer, though, West was right to pass over four spades. South ruffed the diamond lead, drew trumps, cashed the heart ace and ran the heart jack. The finesse lost to the queen, and East defended perfectly, switching to the club jack. He knew to lead high when needing three tricks from the suit (and low when requiring only two winners). East-West took one heart and three clubs.
Declarer played poorly. True, West was more likely than East to have the heart queen, but South didn't need to guess. After ruffing the first diamond lead, declarer should have played a spade to the dummy, ruffed a diamond, returned to dummy with another spade and ruffed the diamond jack. Now South would have cast adrift with a club.
The defenders take three tricks in the suit, but what then? After a heart lead, the guess evaporates. After a minor-suit lead, declarer ruffs in the dummy and sluffs his heart loser. In both cases, South collects his 10th trick.