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Desperate Measures

When the pressure is on, are you capable of a) knowing when desperate measures are required and b) executing them? When North ended up in 4S and East led a low diamond, desperate measures were indeed required to bring the contract home.

Board 21 from Thursday 16/08/2018.
Dealer N NS Vul

Board#21 16/08/2018

North opened 1S and South bid 2H, North 2S and South 3C. North now bid 4S, not wanting to play in No Trumps, which as it happens was just as good as 4S. Personally, I too would have bid 4S rather than risk 3NT.

Against 4S, East found the best lead of a low diamond. Lowest from Jxx is normally not a productive lead, but East had reasons, maybe based on the bidding. The diamond went to West’s queen and declarer now did need to take desperate measures, because the opening lead had hit his weak spot. If he played trumps immediately, the defence would take two diamonds, with a heart finesse then required
to make the game.

Since the heart finesse was going to be required, declarer led the ten of hearts instead of a trump. The finesse worked and he was now able to play three rounds of hearts and dispose of one losing diamond. If an opponent ruffed the third round, that was too bad. Chances were that the same player who ruffed the third heart would also have four spades if trumps broke badly. Yes, they did break badly, but the hearts were 3-3. and declarer thus escaped to make 4S.

The risk in the heart suit needed to be taken, though there was another option, play ace of clubs and finesse the jack with the hope of discarding a losing heart if the CLUB finesse worked, a much inferior desperate measure that was executed at one table with a very poor end result!

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