Bridge: Text-book hitch

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The Independent Culture
SOUTH on this week's deal was a well-read player. He had read somewhere that the right way to play a suit of KQ10987 in dummy (which has only one side entry) facing two low cards in hand is to take a first- round finesse of the ten. This play is designed to prevent East, with AJx in the critical suit, ducking if one of the top honours has been played. Unfortunately there was a hitch that South's text-book did not mention . . .

Love all; dealer South


A 7 2


K Q 10 9 8 7

J 7 6



J 10 9 8 5 3

4 2

Q 4 3 2


Q J 10 9 3

7 6 2

A J 3

K 10


K 8 6 5

A Q 4

6 5

A 9 8 5

South opened One No- trump (12-14 points) and North raised to game. West led the jack of hearts against Three No-trumps, removing one of dummy's entries. It was clear that the diamond suit had to be brought in and you can see where South's reading led him. Correctly he judged that if he came to hand with a spade and led a diamond to the king, East would hold off and thereby kill the diamond suit.

Accordingly, after entering his hand with a spade to the king, declarer led a diamond and finessed dummy's ten. It may well have been the correct play in isolation but East won with the jack and (unsportingly) counter-attacked with the queen of spades. Now, when he got in again with the ace of diamonds, he had three spade tricks to cash and defeat the contract.

It looks silly but try the effect of leading the seven of diamonds from dummy at trick two. This means giving up two tricks in the suit no matter how it is divided, but the defenders cannot break through in any department for South still has the spades doubly guarded. This would have led to ten tricks instead of an embarrassing eight.