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Oct. 18/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 When a contract seems to hang on a slender thread, declarer will often need a favourable lie of the cards to get home. Sometimes, however, the contract is easier to make because the key suits lie poorly for the declaring side.


Today's deal is an example.

East-West vulnerable South deals

  10 8 4
A K J 9 6
Q 1 0 2

K 6

A J 9 5 2
9 5 3

10 8 7 3

Q 10 8 7 5 4
J 8 6 4


  K Q 7 6
A K 7

Q 9 5 4 2

West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2(1) Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT End  

(1) Artificial force

Opening Lead:

 North's task at his second turn is to identify the best strain for game. His hearts aren't long enough to commit to 4
and his diamond guard isn't strong enough to commit to 3NT, so he stalls by bidding 2, the fourth suit. Some believe the fourth suit establishes a game force but others feel free to pass a minimum rebid by opener. Opener may show delayed support for opener's first suit, bid notrump (usually with a stopper in the fourth suit), or finish describing his hand naturally at an economical level. South, a graduate of the game-forcing school, settles for 2NT, and is raised to three.

 It is often effective to lead the fourth suit after such auctions and a diamond lead would have been best, but West, reasonably enough, started with his fourth-highest spade. East could provide no assistance, however, and declarer won with the
7 to lead a heart to the jack and queen. East switched to a diamond and declarer took his ace and led a club to the king and ace. A second diamond ran to dummy's ten and the A (club from South, spade from West) revealed the bad break.


 On the K, declarer threw the K (to stay in dummy) and West his last diamond, but when declarer discarded another club on the Q, West was in trouble. He could not release a spade lest declarer develop two more spade tricks, so he discarded a club. Declarer played queen and another club and West, down to ace-jack-nine of spades, could not play any of them with profit. Declarer had to make two of the last three tricks in spades for nine in all. Although spades, hearts and clubs all broke badly for declarer, the hand effectively played itself. West's spades were like a can attached to his tail.