Two Holdings May Be Better Than One
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.