Both vulnerable. South deals.


xA K 8 5

uJ 10 7 6 2

v7 5 3



xQ J 9 3 x10 7 6

u9 u8 3

vK 10 4 2 vJ 9 6

wQ 8 7 4 wK 6 5 3 2


x4 2

uA K Q 5 4

vA Q 8

wA J 9

The bidding:


2NT Pass 3v* Pass

3u Pass 3x Pass

4w Pass 4u Pass

5v Pass 6w Pass

6u Pass Pass Pass

*Transfer to hearts

Opening lead: Queen of x

Study the diagram, then decide: Would you rather play or defend six hearts after the lead of the queen of spades?

South’s hand was too strong to risk opening one heart, yet not quite good enough for a demand bid. The hand does qualify for a bid of two no trump despite the lack of a spade stopper — these days the requirement has changed to promise-only stoppers in three suits. Thereafter, a cue-bidding sequence led to the good six-heart contract.

Suppose you elect to play. You win in dummy, draw two rounds of trumps, cash the ace of spades and ruff a spade. Cash the ace of clubs and sandwich another spade ruff in hand between two club ruffs on the board.

The scene is set to lead a low diamond and, when East follows low, you insert the eight. That forces West to win, and he has no safe return. A diamond would be into your ace-queen tenace, and any other suit allows you to ruff in dummy and discard the queen of diamonds from hand.

However, when you lead a diamond from dummy, East can scuttle this plan by playing the nine or the jack. You must cover with the queen, West wins with the king and returns a diamond, and you are stranded with a diamond loser — down one.

But don’t be in such a hurry to switch to defense — you can improve your technique. Win the king of spades, cash the ace and ruff a spade high. Cross to dummy with a trump, ruff the last spade high and get back to dummy with another trump, in the process drawing the last of the opponents’ trumps. Now lead the ten of clubs and overtake with the jack should East follow low.

West can win with the queen, but he has no safe return. He must concede the fulfilling trick by leading into one of your minor-suit tenaces. Try it.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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