Bridge - The Scotsman 29/09/12

When a contract seems straightforward it is worth taking a little time to look for potential pitfalls.

North’s pre-empt gave West a bit of a problem. He might double, but then if East bid 3S he would have no idea what to do next. Discounting the king of diamonds, which is unlikely to score, the hand is not so great, so he bid a simple 3H, and was quite happy when partner raised to game. North led the ten of clubs. How would you plan the play?

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You must lose to the ace of diamonds, and the mirror distribution means you have a spade loser, so the plan is not to lose more than one heart. That means you need South to have the queen, far better odds than playing North for the singleton queen. You want to lead trumps from dummy, perhaps more than once, so you rise with the ace of clubs and lead a heart to the jack. Things look up when the jack scores, and North follows. South remains with ace and queen of hearts, so you need to lead hearts from dummy one more time. Any other problems?

At the table, declarer crossed to the queen of clubs to lead a second heart. South rose with the ace and played a diamond to the king and North’s ace. North produced a third club, ruffed by South with the queen of trumps, and the contract went one down. This might appear unlucky, since the auction suggests that North is more likely to have the doubleton club than South.

In fact, the play was rather careless. One of the best ways to avoid an enemy ruff is to cut communications. If declarer had foreseen the possibility of a ruff he could easily guard against it by leading the king of diamonds at trick three, removing North’s entry before he was able to use it effectively.