Bridge: It pays to consider all the options

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The Independent Culture
SOUTH considered two possible lines of play in his contract of Six Spades on this deal. Rightly deciding that one offered better chances than the other, he played accordingly and went down. Instead of claiming that he had 'played with the percentages', he would have done better to take a third possibility into account.

Love all; dealer South


S 6 5

H 9 3

D A Q J 6 5 4 2



8 3 2

Q J 10 5

K 8 7

K 10 3


9 4

K 8 6 2

10 9

J 8 7 6 4


A K Q J 10 7

A 7 4


9 5 2

South opened One Spade and North responded Two Diamonds. South jumped to Three Spades and, hoping that South could show diamond support, North explored with Four Clubs. South, unsure of his partner's intentions, temporised with Four Hearts, and after North's next bid of Four Spades, advanced fearlessly to Six Spades.

It was all rather hit and miss, but the final contract was reasonable. West led the queen of hearts and declarer considered how best to utilise dummy's long suit. As the cards lie, a straight finesse succeeds, but to play the ace and take a ruffing finesse seemed an improvement, as this catered for East holding the singleton king. South drew trumps and played on these lines, but West won with the king of diamonds and cashed a heart.

The best approach (after drawing trumps) would have been to play the ace of diamonds and ruff a low diamond. Now declarer is home if the king is doubleton in either defender's hand. If, as happens, both follow with low diamonds, a winning finesse in clubs will provide the required extra entry to the table.

This line will also work (assuming the club finesse to be right) when West shows out on the second round of diamonds - then the marked ruffing finesse brings in the long suit.