The Star Democrat

Great declarers are good readers

- By Phillip Alder

Top declarers are excellent at placing the key missing cards. Watch Jeff Meckstroth in action on this deal.

East’s one-diamond opening showed two or more cards in the suit and 11-14 points. Meckstroth (South) preferred the more descriptiv­e one-no-trump overcall. Two diamonds promised at least six cards in either major, and two no-trump indicated length in two suits excluding spades.

Declarer was allowed to win the first trick with his spade queen. He cashed the heart ace and, confident that West had played a singleton 10, continued with his club king and jack, East ducking both to deny declarer a door to the dummy. East won the third club and cashed the spade ace. Then he paused. The defenders were getting one spade, one heart (if declarer couldn’t get to the dummy to take a finesse) and one club. So they needed two diamond tricks without establishi­ng the diamond 10 as a dummy entry. As a consequenc­e, shifting to the queen wasn’t going to be good enough. Instead, East led the diamond three! He hoped that South would play him for the ace and put up his king.

Meckstroth realized that if West had the ace-queen or ace-jack of diamonds, he was doomed. So, did West have only the ace or the queen-jack? With the queen-jack, he might have led that suit. So, Meckstroth played low from this hand!

West took the trick and returned the suit, but South won with his king and exited with his last diamond. East could not stop Meckstroth from getting into the dummy to take the heart finesse.

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