Wednesday 19 August 1998
4J 8 3
#A K 10 8
28 6 4 2
4Q 9 4K 10 5 4 2
!9 5 2 !J 10 8 6
#J 9 5 #Q 7 6 4
2Q J 10 9 3 2none
4A 7 6
!A K Q 4
2A K 7 5
"SECOND HAND plays low" is an old adage with some well known exceptions. For example when West holds K,x,x and an otherwise entryless dummy has A,J,10,x,x in the suit, he should go in with his king on the lead of a low card from declarer's hand. Then if East holds Q,x,x declarer will be restricted to only one trick in the suit and, indeed, if he allows the king to hold and later finesses, may make none at all! There was a similar situation in the diamond suit on this deal but West missed his chance.
South opened Two No-trumps and North raised to game. West led 2Q against Three No-trumps and East's discard of a low spade was something of a disappointment to declarer. There were only eight tricks on top and apparently the sole hope of a ninth lay in the diamond suit. After winning the club lead, South led a diamond. West played low and a finesse of the eight drew East's queen. Although declarer agonised for some while about his next play in the diamond suit, as the cards lay he could not go wrong and the game rolled in.
By now, you have all the necessary clues for a successful defence. Yes, West should have played #J on the first round of the suit. Now, whether he wins this or not, declarer is restricted to only two tricks in the suit. It is true that, after winning the jack with dummy's king, South may try for an end-play against East by ducking a round of spades completely, but West can scotch any hopes in this direction by leading a second diamond himself when he is in with 4Q.
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