Often the play to one trick will be governed by your plan for — at least some of — the others. Here, an early decision will determine your success in your game contract.

Dealer: SouthN/S Game

South opened a Weak 1NT, raised to 3NT. Declarer has six tricks and clubs will provide plenty more. On 7♠ lead from West, the usual play with king or queen doubleton opposite king or queen to three in hand, is to rise with the honour in dummy. Either this will hold the trick — leaving the honour in hand at least protected from attack by West, or the doubleton honour loses to East and declarer can now hold up his honour in hand until the third round, probably exhausting East of his supply. Here, however, rising with Q♠ is wrong.

Declarer has two realistic chances to succeed. The club finesse may be right or West holds six spades. If declarer rises with Q♠ and this wins, when East takes his Kc, he will return a spade, and that will be the end of the contract. However, if declarer plays low from dummy at trick 1 and allows East’s 10♠ to hold the trick, when East returns 6♠, whether West ducks or not, South has successfully exhausted East of his supply of spades. Now, when declarer takes the doomed club finesse, East wins, but cannot return the spade, and South scores ten tricks.

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