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North-South vulnerable, North deals

NORTH

♠A 5 3 2

♥A K 10

♦Q 10 4

♣J 9 8

WEST EAST

♠J 8 ♠7 4

♥9 6 5 ♥Q J 8 2

♦J 8 7 3 ♦K 9 5

♣K 6 4 2 ♣Q 10 7 3

SOUTH

♠K Q 10 9 6

♥7 4 3

♦A 6 2

♣A 5

The bidding:

NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST

1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass

2♠ Pass 4♠ All pass

Opening lead: Six of

Three no trump would have been easier, but the North-South bidding cannot be faulted. Many players would win the heart lead, draw trumps, and eventually cash the ace of diamonds and lead another diamond toward the queen-10. This works when West has both missing diamond honors and fails when East has them both. When the two honors are split, assuming no honor has appeared, South will have a guess for the contract, deciding whether to play the queen or the 10 from dummy. Let’s call this a 50 percent line of play.

An expert would do much better. He would also win the heart lead and draw trumps, but then he would cash the ace of clubs and lead another club. The defense would likely revert to hearts, but a club continuation would produce the same result. Declarer would win the heart continuation in dummy, ruff dummy’s remaining club, and exit with his last heart. When East wins this heart, as he would here, the contract is assured. East will have to yield a ruff-sluff or lead a diamond. South would play a low diamond from his hand and lose no more than one diamond trick regardless of the location of the missing honors. Should West win the third heart and lead a diamond, declarer would play the 10 from dummy. Should this fetch the jack from East, declarer would win and lead a diamond toward dummy’s queen. The play succeeds if West has either the king or jack of diamonds. In all cases much better than 50 percent. (02/27/19)

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