Both vulnerable. South deals.


xA 10 7 2

uK 10 8

vA 10 7 3

wJ 5


x8 6 3 xK Q 5 4

u5 3 2 u4

v6 5 2 vQ 9 8 4

wA Q 10 8 wK 7 3 2


xJ 9

uA Q J 9 7 6

vK J

w9 6 4

The bidding:


1u Pass 1x Pass

2u Pass 4u Pass

Pass Pass

Opening lead: Three of x

Before playing to the first trick, take a moment to count your tricks. That simple act can point the way to the winning line.

With two jacks of questionable value and a lack of defense, the South hand, at this vulnerability, is actually better suited to a weak two-bid than an opening bid of one heart. The final contract, however, should be the same no matter which opening bid South chooses.

West leads a low spade. How would you plan the play? If you are sure that West has a spade honor, one way to tackle the hand would be to play a low spade from dummy, unblocking the jack when East produces the queen, then later take a finesse for the king of spades for the 10th trick. But there is no guarantee that West holds a spade honor.

If you count your tricks, a better way presents itself. You have nine off the top and the simplest way to the fulfilling trick is via a club ruff. Do not duck the first trick. Should the defenders win and the lead hearts at every opportunity, you may end up a trick short. Rise with the ace of spades and lead a club, and whenever you gain the lead, persevere with clubs. There is no way the defenders can prevent you from ruffing a club in dummy for your 10th trick.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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