Bridge Players Corner: Nov. 16

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

by Karl Kachadoorian

West leads the Queen of Spades against 3 NT. As always, before good declarers play to the first trick they develop a plan. The first thing they do is count winners. As you can see, declarer has two sure winners in each suit, for a total of 8. In addition, he has the potential to take one or two more tricks in the Diamond suit, depending on the distribution and location of key cards.

Looking at all four hands it should be obvious on how to play the Diamond suit. Since you only need one more Diamond trick to make your contract you should be looking at playing your existing suit situation to make three tricks.

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Would you believe that without looking at the defenders hands it’s possible to play the suit to guarantee at least three Diamond tricks against any distribution?

Proper technique dictates that declarer first cashes the Ace in his hand. If either defender shows out, the play of the suit becomes an open book. Assuming both defenders follow suit, declarer leads a small Diamond toward dummy. If West follows suit, dummy simply covers whatever card West plays. This guarantees three Diamond tricks. If East were to win this trick, it would mean that the suit broke 3-2 and you are guaranteed three Diamond tricks. If East shows out, as is the case in this hand, declarer either has his third trick if he wins with the 9 or if he is forced to with the King and he just continues playing the suit to set up his last Diamond. If West had showed out on the second round, declarer would win with King and lead from the board toward his hand to establish his Jack.

Thus, nothing can prevent declarer from getting his ninth trick if he plays the suit correctly.