Bridge - The Scotsman 23/03/13

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WEST reached 4H after a simple auction, and North led the nine of spades. How would you play?

There are eight sure winners: six hearts and two aces. The lead has presented you with a ninth. A tenth might appear if the ace of diamonds is onside, or if something nice happens in spades. Looking at it from another angle, you have no spade losers, no heart losers, but two potential losers

in each minor. An unthinking declarer plays the ten of spades at trick one

and, when it scores, draws trumps in

two rounds. He cashes the ace of spades in case the king drops, then crosses to the ace of hearts to lead a diamond to the king. North wins and returns a club, and declarer goes down.

Unlucky – or careless?

Declarer should take advantage of his good fortune – North has not led a club. This gives you time to establish spades for club discards. If there were enough entries to dummy you could win the ten, cash the ace, cross to dummy with a trump and ruff finesse the king (the lead tells you that South has that card). Then you could return to dummy to cash a winning spade, discarding one of your losers and making ten tricks. But dummy’s hearts pips are disappointing – the only way to reach dummy is with the ace of hearts. How can you make best use of that single entry?

The solution is simple enough. Play low from dummy on the spade lead and win the ace. Draw trumps with the king and queen, then play a second spade, forcing out the king. The defenders may cash two diamonds, but when they play clubs you win the ace and cross to the ace of hearts to discard your remaining clubs on spades.