Neither vulnerable. South deals.
x -9 8
u -K 8 6 5
v -K J 5 4
w -4 3 2
x -J 10 7 3 x -K 6 5 4 2
u -10 u -Q 9 7
v -10 6 3 2 v -8 7
w -A 9 8 5 w -Q J 10
x -A Q
u -A J 4 3 2
v -A Q 9
w -K 7 6
SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST
2NT Pass 3w Pass
3u Pass 4u Pass
Opening lead: Jack of x
Here's another hand from the daily bulletin of the Spring North American Championships, composed by Eddie Kantar for players looking to improve their game.
Note the opening bid of two no trump despite possession of a five-card major. Should South open one heart? After a likely one-no-trump response the strong hand will be exposed at three no trump, making defending the hand much easier. Here, a Stayman inquiry by North made South the declarer at four hearts.
West led the jack of spades, and declarer was looking at four possible losers -- three clubs and a trump. One club can go away on the fourth diamond once trumps are drawn, so it might seem that declarer should follow the percentage line in hearts of cashing the king and ace, hoping to drop the queen. As the cards lie, that would lead to defeat. East will ruff the third diamond and switch to the queen of clubs, and the defenders collect three club tricks to go with the trump already banked.
Correct is for declarer to play safe with an avoidance tactic. After winning the first trick as cheaply as possible, declarer should continue by leading a trump to the king and a trump back, finessing the jack. As the cards lie, that wins the trick and declarer has 11 winners -- two spades, five hearts and four diamonds.
However, suppose the jack of hearts loses to the queen with West. The defender cannot attack clubs profitably. Whether West returns a diamond or a spade, declarer can draw trumps and take four rounds of diamonds, discarding a club from hand, and limit his losers to two clubs and trump.
& copy;2005 Tribune Media Services
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