Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Let the opponents do your dirty work

- By Phillip Alder © 2023 UFS, Dist. by Andrews McMeel for UFS PHILLIP ALDER

There are some 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 your four-spade contract. How would you try to get them to help you find the heart queen?

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, though five diamonds doubled would have cost only 200 points.

Against this declarer, 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 promptly switched to the club jack, collecting three tricks in that suit to defeat the contract.

Declarer played badly. 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. Then South could have cast adrift with a club.

The defenders take three tricks in the suit, but what then? If West leads a heart, the guess evaporates. If he leads a minor-suit card, declarer ruffs in the dummy and sluffs his heart loser. In both cases, South is furnished with his 10th trick.

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