No easy road to success

There are no magic rules that govern declarer’s play. The best approach in a given hand is usually more a matter of common sense than anything else, and certainly does not depend on any allencompassing formula.

Take this case where South is declarer in three notrump. He starts with seven tricks and needs to increase them to nine. The most obvious method of play is to win the diamond and take a spade finesse. If West has the king, two additional spade tricks will immediately accrue, solving declarer’s problem right away.

However, attacking spades at once has a serious drawback. If East has the king, he will win and most likely shift to a heart, and the contract might — and in the actual case will — go down.

For this reason, South should avoid, or at least defer, any method of play that allows East to gain the lead and launch a potentially deadly heart attack. The A-Q of hearts are a formidable combination so long as West is on lead, but their power is considerably diminished if East obtains the lead. East is Public Enemy No. 1, and the hand should be played so as to avoid him, if at all possible.

Declarer should therefore win the first diamond in his hand, lead a club to the ace and return a club. If East follows low, South should insert the ten, being willing to lose the trick to West. This play automatically produces trick No. 8, since the clubs are bound to be divided 3-2 if the ten loses to West.

Whatever West returns, South is certain of at least nine tricks, because he can now take the spade finesse in complete safety. Win or lose, he can’t be defeated. ¦

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2012-10-18 digital edition

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