Puzzle This

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

You (South) are declarer in 4. West leads a trump, East following. Recognizing that you need to use dummy’s limited entries to lead up to your minor-suit kings, you try a low diamond toward your hand. West captures your king, however, with the ace, and plays another trump, East again following suit. How do you play from here?

View Solution

You could, of course, win the trick in dummy and play a club toward your king. This works as long as West didn’t start with both minor-suit aces. There’s a slightly better line, however, that increases your chances.

You start with nine tricks: six trumps and three spades. If either minor-suit ace is onside or if spades are 3–3 you can make your 10th, game-going trick. When the A turned out to be on your left, however, a little care is required in which order you play to give yourself the best shot.

The superior play is to overtake the Q with the ace, draw the remaining trump, and play three rounds of spades, ending in dummy. If the spades are 3–3, you’re home: Simply cash the 13th spade.

If the spades aren’t 3–3, however, you can use your dummy entry to play a club toward your king.

What happens if both aces are offside and spades aren’t 3–3? Simple: You can’t make 4!.

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