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Follow declarers reasoning

Rubber Bridge

West Deals
None Vul
♠ K 8 2
K J 4 3
9 8 4 2
♣ 7 2
♠ 10 7
10 8 6
♣ A J 10 9 8 4 3
W   E
♠ J 9 4 3
A 9 2
J 7 6 3
♣ Q 6
  ♠ A Q 6 5
Q 7 5
A Q 10 5
♣ K 5
West North East South
3 ♣ Pass Pass 3 NT1
Pass Pass Pass
  1. Choice between 3NT and a take-out double. 3NT has the advantage that, with you declaring, the king of clubs is protected on the lead of the suit from left-hand opponent.

“Why didn’t you play the queen of clubs at trick one?”, queried West after today’s deal from an afternoon rubber at the Portland Club. As so often when one player points the metaphorical forefinger of blame at his partner, the other fingers are pointing towards himself.

Declarer won West’s jack of clubs lead with the king – East playing low – and faced a near-impossible task without assistance. Leading a heart would surely see the defence – likely East given West’s preempt – win the ace and run clubs (West would not be hard-pressed to overtake East’s queen with the ace).

The only legitimate hope was to cross to dummy’s the king of spades and lead the nine of diamonds playing East for king and jack. But even then, East could cover the nine to prevent declarer from repeating the finesse. He would need East to have precisely king-jack doubleton to yield four diamond tricks. He would also need spades 3-3 to make four tricks there. That would give West three spades, three diamonds and, given that he held seven clubs, no hearts. Possible – yes; likely – hardly.

Declarer sought a swindle. He led the queen of spades to lure the defence into thinking along the wrong lines, then came the key play. At trick three declarer led his remaining club. West looked at this a while, but, reasoning that his partner would have played the queen at trick one from his actual holding, played the eight.

Can you see what has happened? East won the trick perforce with his queen of clubs and now the defence have lost their communication. East switched to a diamond, but declarer was unwilling to lose a trick to West so rose with the ace. Delighted to see West’s king come tumbling down, he could now knock out the ace of hearts, finesse against East’s jack of diamonds and so emerge with 11 tricks. Game made plus two.

Although West is correct that East should have unblocked the queen of clubs at trick one, he should really have got the position correct and risen with his ace of clubs on declarer’s low club at trick three, swallowing his partner’s queen and enabling him to run the suit. What declarer would lead a low club out of hand if he began with ♣KQx? It would be madness, for he would know East held no more clubs and he was safe.

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