Bridge - The Scotsman 21/07/12

IN A no-trump contract you may have to give up the lead more than once to establish your winners. This gives the defenders a good chance to establish a suit of their own. Can you win this race?

When partner opens one of a minor and you have no other suit to bid you may have to be creative. East might simply bid 3NT, but he prefers to give partner a chance to describe his hand in case he is not balanced. The 1NT rebids reassures him that 3NT is the best game. North leads the ten of hearts. How would you plan the play?

There are just four Sure Tricks at this point, but you can establish three more in clubs and two in diamonds. If hearts break 4-3 the best the defence can do is establish two hearts to go with their two aces. The actual declarer thought he could afford to take a free finesse of the jack of hearts at trick one. When South produced the queen he ducked to guard against a 5-2 break, but this was not good enough. South played his second heart, and when North won the ace of clubs he played a third heart, on which South showed out. When North turned up with the ace of diamonds as well the contact failed.

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Unlucky that North had both aces, perhaps, but there is no rush to finesse the jack of hearts. Simply win the first heart in hand with the king and play clubs.

If South wins he cannot gain by leading into the ace-jack of hearts; if North wins and plays a second heart you can finesse now. Should the jack score you can knock out the ace of diamonds for an overtrick. In the event that South turns up with the queen and plays a third heart the suit has probably broken 4-3; and if South wins the doubleton queen of hearts he has no heart left to play.