# Careful Planning

Pat Harrington

To develop tricks in notrump, we use only high cards and length. We’ve also examined some techniques declarer might use — ducking, holding up, promotion and fi nesses. And we’ve become aware that we have to consider how fearful we are of the suit led on opening lead. Plan your play on the following deal (you opened 1NT as South and partner raised you to 3NT).
♠ K J 2
9 5 3
A Q 10 3
♣ 7 6 3
♠ A Q 6 4
A 7 6
J 9 6
♣ A 9 5
Count winners — four spades, one heart, one diamond and one club. You must finesse in diamonds. Can the heart suit hurt you if the diamond finesse loses? Should you hold up on winning the A?
First, a defensive problem. You are East. South is in 3NT. Partner leads the 2.

 ♠ K J 2 ♥ 9 5 3 ♦ A Q 10 3 ♣ 7 6 3 ♠ 10 7 5 ♥ Q 10 4 ♦ K 8 4 ♣ K Q J 10
1. What heart will you play on the first trick?
2. If the card you play holds the trick, what will you return at trick two?

When partner leads a low card, your job is to play third hand high. You play the Q. It wins! Did you return partner’s lead at trick two? If so, you failed to make your plan.
It’s easier for you since your objective isn’t as lofty. All you need is five tricks to defeat 3NT. Can you see them? Your Q is one. It looks like you will get the K because of the diamond power in dummy — that’s two. A good analysis of partner’s2 opening lead will tell you that the best you can do is take three more tricks in hearts. When partner leads a fourth-best 2, he cannot have more than four cards in his suit. Returning a heart could beat only if declarer has no heart tricks. You shouldn’t hold out for this hope, because you see a sure way to get three additional tricks in clubs. Switch to the ♣K at trick two. When you get in with theK, you will cash three clubs and set the contract. The complete deal:

 ♠ K J 2 ♥ 9 5 3 ♦ A Q 10 3 ♠ 9 8 3 ♣ 7 6 3 ♠ 10 7 5 ♥ K J 8 2 ♥ Q 10 4 ♦ 7 5 2 ♦ K 8 4 ♣ 8 4 2 ♠ A Q 6 4 ♣ K Q J 10 ♥ A 7 6 ♦ J 9 6 ♣ A 9 5

If you continue hearts, declarer will end up losing two or three hearts and the K.

Now let’s go back to declarer’s plan. Have you realized that I asked you to plan the same deal as declarer and defender? As declarer, did you hold up on the A at trick one?

How do you know not to hold up? Analyze the opening lead. The 2 lead tells you that West probably started with only four hearts and the suit is splitting 4–3. Hearts can’t hurt you!

Declarer usually holds up in an attempt to sever communications between the defenders. And declarer has to sever communications only when there is a scary suit. We’ve already determined that hearts can’t hurt you badly when West holds only four of them. The next step is to see if a switch to another suit could hurt. And the answer here is yes. Your club suit is every bit as
weak as your hearts. Moral — don’t hold up in one suit when a switch to another suit could hurt you worse.