Bridge - The Scotsman 28/07/12
Often the success of a contract depends on the location of opponents’ high cards.
Wherever possible you should try not to depend on a fortunate lie.
East-West were playing five-card majors, so East could happily raise partner. 4H is an excellent contract, with six trump tricks, two spades, and three more tricks from clubs. The only thing that might go wrong is that South wins the ace of clubs and leads a middling diamond through your K9.
North leads the queen of spades.
How would you plan the play?
The actual declarer won the ace of spades, carefully keeping the king as an entry. He drew trumps in three rounds, ending in dummy, to lead a club towards the king. South rose smartly with the ace and produced an ominous ten of diamonds. Declarer ducked, hoping North might hold AQJ trebleton and be forced to overtake, but there was no good news and the contract failed. Unlucky, since 4H makes easily if the aces are in the opposite hands. But can you do better?
You might try a scissors coup: win
the ace of spades, play the king and discard the king of clubs on the nine. North wins, and, say, switches to a trump. Play two rounds ending in dummy and lead the queen of clubs, discarding a diamond if South does not cover. If he covers you can ruff, then return to dummy by drawing the last trump to discard two diamonds.
This way you lose a spade instead of a club, but two diamonds instead of three. And if North has the ace of clubs all along you can still discard three diamonds.
Note that you need to retain two trump entries to dummy to establish and cash the club winners, so you must postpone drawing trumps. An alternative line is to duck the first spade, but if you try that North might just find the club switch that takes you two down.
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