Hand of the Week
(1) Second negative.
A simple auction carries you to game. West leads the ♣J. How will you play the contract?
You have eight top tricks along with five potential losers in the red suits. So, at first glance, it may seem that you will need to use the 10 and 9 of trumps as entries to lead towards the ♥K and take the diamond finesse. All you need for that plan to work is for East to hold both the ♥A and the ♦K!
The first time you see this type of hand, it is not easy to spot the additional chance that allows you to make the contract when one of the red cards is badly placed. When it is pointed out, the general reaction is, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
After winning the club lead, you should play a low heart from your hand at trick two. Let’s say that East wins the trick with the ♥10 and switches to a trump, hoping to stop you ruffing a heart in dummy. You win in the dummy and lead a heart to the king. When West takes the ♥K with the ace, it may seem that fate has conspired against you. When West has no trump to return, however, it turns out that your luck is in after all!
On this layout, no matter what West returns you will be able to ruff your third heart with dummy’s last trump. Of course, that gives you the entry to finesse the ♦Q, making the contract when the ♦K proves to be onside.
You should reflect on what would happen if you played a trump to dummy at trick two and then led a heart to the king. West would win the ♥A and play a trump. Later, East would win the second round of hearts and play another trump, leaving you with four losers: three hearts and one diamond. So all you needed to make this contract was the two most important attributes for any bridge player – luck and skill!