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“More ways of killing a cat than by choking her with cream.” - Charles Kingsley

Wed., Nov. 14, 2007

An endplay is always better – and more satisfying – than a guess about which way to finesse. And that is particularly so when you can fall back on the finesse if things do not work out as you would hope.

West led the heart king, then the ace, East signaling high-low to show an even number of hearts (which West knew to be four from the auction). So West switched to a trump, which declarer won in dummy, then drew the rest of the outstanding trumps, ending in hand.

The contract depended on locating the diamond queen. West had opened the bidding, but surely East had something for his pre-emptive raise. Not the club ace, as this would leave West with a very sparse opening bid, but possibly the diamond queen.

Declarer saw that there was still another avenue that could be explored before a decision had to be made regarding the diamond queen.

On East’s high-low heart play, West was marked with five hearts, and had shown up with three spades. If West held the ace of clubs singleton or doubleton, he could be endplayed into opening up the diamond suit or offering a ruff and discard.

So, South made the key play of leading a low club away from his king. West played low, dummy’s queen held, and a second club was played to the king and ace. The cards lay precisely as declarer wished: West was endplayed, and declarer could claim the balance on the diamond shift.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ 8 7 5
♥ A K J 7 5
♦ 9 3 2
♣ A 7
1 ♥1 ♠Dbl.Pass

Answer: Ugh – what a horrid set of choices! Perhaps the best option is to rebid one no-trump, which at least limits your hand and shows your range accurately. After all, what is a spade stop between friends?


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