Bridge - The Scotsman, 13/04/13

The advent of computer dealing means that “x” is no longer used to denote a random small card. A good thing, given that your small cards can be significant – can you make use of your pips here?

West opened a strong no-trump, and North’s intervention persuaded East that there was no point in looking for a heart contract. North led the queen of spades. How would you plan the play?

You have seven tricks in aces and kings. An eighth might appear if diamonds break 3-3, but that means giving up the lead twice, probably allowing North-South to establish and cash spades. The only real chance to make the contract is to establish two extra tricks in hearts. You must hope that North has no more than four hearts, so that the fifth heart will produce a length trick. That would give South a singleton heart. Can the suit be distributed in a way that would allow you to make four heart tricks?

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The situation is hopeless if North has QJ98. A singleton honour in the South hand does not help either; the queen or jack would drop under the ace, but North would be left with, say, Q98 and must make two tricks. But what if South has the singleton eight or nine? Declarer won the ace of spades and led the ten of hearts, planning to run it if North did not cover. If the ten scored he would play ace-king and another heart to establish his length. North actually covered the ten with the jack, but that did not help. Declarer won the ace, noting South’s eight, and led a low heart to the seven. When North took the nine he was left with J5 under dummy’s K64, and declarer had a finesse position to make his game. Terence Reese would not have approved of North’s overcall: without the information it provided East-West might land in a hopeless 4H game.