Two Hold­ings May Be Bet­ter Than One

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Phillip Adler, NEA Con­trib­u­tor

Fred Allen, a co­me­dian and jug­gler who died in 1956, said, “The last time I saw him, he was walk­ing down lover’s lane hold­ing his own hand.”

That’s sad, and in bridge we have suit hold­ings that some­times leave play­ers feel­ing lonely. In to­day’s deal, South is in three notrump. How should he walk the walk af­ter West leads the heart nine?

Note that a nine lead is al­ways top of noth­ing, un­less you use coded leads, when a 10 or a nine shows zero or two higher cards and would be ei­ther top of noth­ing or from a suit headed by Q-10-9, K-10-9 or A-10-9.

South’s se­quence in­di­cates a bal­anced hand with a good 22 to 24 points. North raises to three no-trump, ex­pect­ing his part­ner to waltz home. How­ever, it is prefer­able to have 15 points op­po­site 14, in­stead of 23 op­po­site 6. With the points more evenly di­vided, mov­ing be­tween the two hands is much eas­ier.

South starts with seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts, one diamond and two clubs. From where will two more win­ners come?

It will have to be di­a­monds -- but how?

If de­clarer leads low to his jack, he wins when East holds the king and queen. But if South plays low to his nine, then low to his jack, he suc­ceeds when East has the king-10 or queen-10, two hold­ings in­stead of one. That is clearly the right ap­proach. Also, be­cause de­clarer must lead di­a­monds twice from the dummy, he has to win the first trick with the heart queen. Then, af­ter his diamond nine loses to West’s queen, South takes the next heart with dummy’s ace, plays a diamond to East’s 10 and his own jack, and claims.

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