Bridge - The Scotsman 30/06/2012
When a contract looks doomed there may still be a winning line. Can you spot one here?
West was over-optimistic when partner made a limit raise in clubs. For all his 19 points he needed a lot from partner to give slam a chance. But his 3S cuebid had denied any red-suit controls, so he thought partner had better holdings. North led the eight of spades. How should you play?
It is lucky that North failed to make the attacking heart lead that gives you no chance, but there is no clear route to 12 tricks. You have four spades, the ace of hearts and five clubs, and you can easily develop a diamond, but how can you avoid losing a heart and a diamond?
This is a classic Morton’s Fork Coup. You can make one discard from dummy on your spades, but a heart will not help, and neither will a diamond – until you have made one diamond trick. You need to decide which opponent has the ace of diamonds, then lead the first diamond through him. Say North has the ace; you draw trumps (in two rounds as it happens), then lead a diamond towards the king. If he ducks you win the king, discard dummy’s remaining diamond on the fourth spade and ruff two diamonds in dummy, conceding a heart on the way. If he takes the ace you have two diamond tricks, and can discard both dummy’s losing hearts.
When South has the ace of diamonds you must lead the first round from dummy towards the queen, and then discard from dummy as appropriate.
So who has the ace of diamonds? When opponents have done no bidding the only clue is the opening lead. North has chosen to lead passively from small spades, suggesting that he may have thought other suits too dangerous. On the other hand, if you think North is the sort of player who would lead an ace against a slam you should play South for the ace. Good luck!
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