Bridge - The Scotsman 15/09/12

Remember to make use of all the information at your disposal.

If you can visualise the defenders’ hands it is easier to see the best line.

(1) Michaels cuebid, 5-5 in the majors

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West could not tell which pair might have a making contract, so he followed the old adage: “when in doubt – bid one more”. North led the king of hearts, taken with the ace as South followed with the three. How would you plan the play?

There appear to be three losers, two hearts and one diamond. North might have the singleton or doubleton queen of diamonds, but that is not very likely. We should review what we know about the hidden hands.

North has five spades, and South’s 4S bid probably means he has five-card support. North has five hearts, which means that South had just one, and is now void. If South has the queen of diamonds we can endplay him, provided we have eliminated his safe exit cards. The endplay will work only if dummy still has a trump, so we must use every available entry to ruff spades.

Since dummy’s entries are mainly in trumps we must start the elimination before drawing trumps. Win the ace of hearts and ruff a spade high. Cross to the eight of clubs, noting that everyone follows, and ruff another spade. Draw the last trump (North has the singleton) by crossing to dummy’s ten, and ruff the last spade. Now play ace, king of diamonds. If North drops the queen well and good, but when he does not you do not really care. Play a third diamond: if South wins the queen he has only spades and diamonds to lead, allowing you to discard a heart from hand while ruffing in dummy. His alternative is to refuse to win the queen, but now that you have no diamond loser you can afford to lose two hearts.