Wednesday 23 July 1997
South opened One Spade and North's raise to Three Spades kept East quiet. It was not difficult for South to go on to game and West led 210 against Four Spades. Declarer realised that it might well be to his advantage if he could force his opponent to open up the heart suit for him so, after drawing trumps, he played off the ace of clubs and ruffed a club. Then he entered dummy with another trump, ruffed the last club and exited with a diamond.
East won the second diamond trick and led !7 which ran round to the king. Declarer led back a second heart and, when East followed with the nine, had the choice between finessing the ten or going up with the queen. It was a 50 per cent affair and, guessing wrongly, South lost two heart tricks to go down.
South was right to make the opponents play hearts but he did not take full advantage of the extra chance this presented. When the first heart was led from East, he should have gone in with the 10 to determine the position of the jack. After the 10 had been covered by the jack and king, he would have had no alternative but to play East for the ace. This play would fail only if West had started with both !A and !J. In other words, South would have given himself a 75 per cent chance of success.
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