Click Monday Evening Feature Hand in Menu
You are South, declarer in 4S after opening a weak two. North, a 6-loser on LTC opposite a likely 7 or 8-loser, uses a 2NT enquiry and will sign off in 3S if south shows weakness. Here south shows good HCPs and 2 of the top 3 trump honours. What is declarer's best line against correct defence after west leads the club queen?
As always in a suit contract, count both winners and losers. Declarer should be able to develop 10 tricks, provided he can avoid the 4 losers that he should have identified BEFORE playing to trick 1, ie one trump, one diamond and TWO hearts. After winning the club ace, declarer has options to start trick 2 with any of the other three suits, but which one? If he tries to draw trumps, west will hold up his ace until the second round, then continue to knock out dummy's club king to deprive declarer of access to a second trick in diamonds. If, instead, declarer tries to set up diamonds at trick 2 by playing the king, east will hold up to get a count signal from west, then capture the diamond queen. East will then exit with a club, knowing that west holds either a singleton or doubleton diamond from his earlier count signal. Declarer's best chance now is a 3-3 diamond break, but here he will be disappointed when west ruffs the jack. Can declarer make his contract without relying on a 3-3 split (35%) rather 4-2 (50%)?
That brings us to the heart suit at trick 2 and there are two ways to play it. (1) Ace and duck: west wins his jack and, sensing a ruff in dummy, cashes the spade ace and exits with a trump. Declarer will now lose one spade, one diamond and two hearts. (2) Declarer ducks a heart at trick 2. If the defence draw trumps, declarer now has time to set up two diamond tricks, after drawing a third round of trumps. If the defence do not play trumps, declarer will make his tenth trick with a heart ruff.
Six quiz entries in total this time, all with interesting and thoughtful lines. However, only two model answers to include the heart duck at trick 2. Well done to Jan Palmer-Sayer and to Geoff Cordingley. Rather than a random prize draw, we have decided to award four free play sessions, two each to these members. A small gesture prize will be awarded to the other four entrants at our revised re-start date of Monday, 4th February.