Hand of the Week
West leads the ♦K, asking for count, and East plays the ♦2 to indicate an odd number – clearly a singleton.
Partner has a near yarborough, but all seems plain sailing until you lay down the king of trumps and West discards a diamond. Suddenly you are staring at a loser in each suit. How do you propose to make one of them vanish?
Unless there is a singleton or doubleton ♣Q (hah!), the only loser you have any chance of seeing disappear is the one in trumps, and for that to happen you need an entry to dummy. So the question is, “How can you find one?” The answer is that West will have to help you. Suppose the full deal is:
After getting the bad news in trumps, you begin by cashing the three remaining side winners – the ♣A, ♣K and ♥A. Then you exit with a club. East wins and is forced to play hearts, if he doesn’t want his trump trick to disappear immediately. You ruff the third round with the ♠10 and exit with your remaining diamond. These cards remain:
After you ruff West’s diamond exit with dummy’s ♠7, East has no winning move. If he overruffs, you have the rest of the tricks straight away. If he discards, you underruff with you ♠5 and then finesse his ♠Q.
Alas, this underruffing play is possible only if West has at most two hearts. The only decision you have then is whether to exit with a heart or a club at trick six. The crucial case is when West started with 0=2=8=3 shape, for then you must exit with a heart if he has ♣Q, and with a club if he doesn’t. East will have four clubs to West’s three in that case, so the odds favor playing a club at trick six.