On today’s deal from a recent Nationals, Eric Leong was West. Against three diamonds on West’s club-king lead, declarer false-carded with the seven. So Leong continued with the ace and decided to play a third round of clubs rather than open up the other suits. Declarer ruffed, crossed to the spade ace and ran the diamond 10, and Leong ducked very smoothly.
Declarer now came to the spade queen and advanced the diamond ace, then quite reasonably played another top diamond, which would have ensured the contract, if East had had a diamond left. (Leading a heart instead would have left declarer in command as the cards lay, and perhaps West’s failure to shift to a heart at trick three might have persuaded him to get this right.)
As it was, East pitched the heart queen on the third diamond, while dummy was forced to let go a heart to come down to two spades, two heart, and the master club. This meant that Leong, who won his diamond king, could play the heart ace and another heart, locking declarer in dummy. After declarer cashed the spade king, either a spade or club play from dummy would now promote West’s diamond nine to the setting trick.
Note what happens if declarer instead discards a spade or club winner from dummy on the third trump. West wins his diamond king and exits with a spade without cashing the heart ace. That endplays dummy as before but with a different set of losing options.
Bid with the aces
|♠ J 8 2|
|♥ A 8 5|
|♦ K 9 4 3|
|♣ A K 5|
Answer: I cannot bring myself to pass, though it might be the winning action. I would rather double than bid one no-trump because, with such weak hearts, I don’t want to put my neck on the line facing a passed partner. Sometimes, the better part of valor is discretion.
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