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One’s OK … Two’s Not

I suppose there’s a hard luck story (of sorts!) in this week’s feature hand. You see, 4H or 4S can be made EW. But one pair NS were smart enough to recognise the potential of a non vulnerable vs vulnerable sacrifice and bid 5C which was duly doubled. They were a new and young pair, so their enterprising bidding is to be admired. Unfortunately their declarer play will need improvement because declarer somehow went down four. Not that it mattered, because only one EW pair bid and made the makeable 4S.

Board 3 from Thursday 13/07/20118

Board#3 13/07/2018

It is easier to make 4S despite the 4-4 heart fit, because the defence might come to declarer’s help, for instance by starting with the jack of diamonds lead and continuing with the ten when declarer ducks. The second diamond lead is won by South’s queen and South might now mistakenly try and cash the ace, allowing a club loser to be disposed of on the king of diamonds later.

As for the heart suit, how should you play it? If South switches to a low heart after winning the queen of diamonds, if declarer plays low and North wins the singleton king, North may well continue a diamond and set up dummy’s king when declarer plays low once more in dummy. For the defence to do best, an early club switch is necessary.

So, the loss of a heart to the singleton king may not be crucial, but the question of how to play the hearts should be considered anyway: It is highly likely, if you take a normal line of leading the two from East and putting in the queen, you will still lose a heart trick, but how best to try and ensure you don’t lose TWO heart tricks? Given that North may have overcalled 2C or even 3C, the best plan is to play the ace first and then lead towards the jack in the East hand, that way even if South has four to the king, only one heart is lost.

Have I managed to persuade you that there are times when you can drop singleton kings by making the ‘percentage’ play?

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