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 Oct. 25/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 Consider the North-South diamond holding in today's deal. Declarer's preferred method of handling this combination is dependent on his objective. If he requires four diamond tricks, he plays ace, then low to the jack, needing more than a spot of luck (a finesse and a three-three break). He would play the same way if he needs only three tricks but cannot afford to lose the lead.

East-West vulnerable North deals

  A J 3
8 6 5
K J 6 2

A 8 2

K Q 9 7 5
K 9 7 2
9 7

9 3

10 6 4 2
J 10 4 3
Q 10 8 3


A 5 4

K Q J 10 7 5 4


West North East South
  1 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 4(1)
Pass 4(1) Pass 5(1)
Pass 6 End  


(1) Cue-bid, with clubs trumps

Opening Lead:

 If he doesn't mind losing the lead but has no side entry to dummy, the best chance for three tricks is ace, then duck completely, then king (or duck the first round). If dummy has an entry, king, ace, low towards the jack loses only when East has at least four diamonds including the queen. Card combinations such as this can be curious, complicated, or confusing, particularly when you appreciate that the suit must be considered not on its own merits but in the context of a full deal.

 Our South player made his 6
contract by handling the diamond suit in a clever way, aided by the revealing opening lead. Declarer combined his chances by playing: A, spade ruff with the K, two rounds of trump, A, K, and, finally, dummy's J, discarding his remaining diamond, as West won the Q, a card he was marked with after the opening lead. West was well and truly stuck. Another spade would permit declarer to ruff in dummy and discard the Q; a heart would run to the ace-queen. If West held the Q and led it, declarer would ruff and return to dummy to cash the jack. If West led a low diamond, declarer would play dummy's jack; if East could play the queen, it would mean that diamonds were three-three and the last diamond in dummy would be established after South ruffed.

 Declarer was able to guarantee the contract by losing, of all things, a spade trick. How odd!