Sun. May 29th, 2022

Declarer’s shoulders slumped half-way through this 3NT contract and, indeed, four of the five simple chances for success failed, but the fifth succeeds. Would you investigate correctly?

Dealer: South
N / S Game

West found an excellent lead in the form of the unbid major suit, choosing 2 ♠. Declarer can count two spades, two hearts and two clubs, so it seemed simple to make the extra tricks either in diamonds, or with the club or heart finesse working. However, having tried to make three diamonds – North taking his A ♦ immediately and continuing with J ♠ – declarer tried the heart and club finesses and, when both failed, he lost A ♦, two spades, Q ♥ and Q ♣.

Having discovered the unhelpful diamond position, declarer should ignore the club suit: this offers only one chance – that J ♣ scores a trick – and instead take on the heart suit – hoping either for a 3-3 break or that West holds Q ♥. The finesse loses and East will take her spade trick (s). However, since leading a club now sorts out the position, East will be forced into leading back a heart. Declarer discovers that this suit does divide 3-3, and scores her ninth trick there.

Notice that West defended well to take his A ♦ immediately and continue spades. As the leader of the shorter holding in a suit – which West hopes he is – you must win as soon as possible and continue leading the suit, hoping that partner can then win and cash winners.

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