A Bridge Phantasmagoria
AN IRRELEVANT QUEEN
As the hand below is an exercise in dummy play, you should cover up the Eat-West cards if you feel like testing your expertise.
Game all: West deals.
The lead from West is the two of spades. Assuming you have covered the East-West cards, how do you play?
If you discard in dummy, allowing the ace of spades to win, you become wholly dependent in finding the lady- the queen of hearts. Let us say you abandon that idea in favour of ruffing in dummy with the three of trumps, how do you now tackle the trump suit?
If you play off the ace and king and fail to drop the queen, you are certainly going down except in the unlikely event that the opponent with the outstanding queen of trumps also has four clubs, allowing you to get rid of all your spades.
A much better plan is to take a first round finesse for the queen of hearts at trick two. Lead the jack of hearts and run it if not covered. If it wins and West follows suit, draw trumps and run the clubs for thirteen tricks.
No matter if the finesse loses to the queen with West, even were it singleton. A spade return can be ruffed with the ace in dummy and after coming to hand with the ace of diamonds, trumps are drawn for twelve tricks.
An interesting position arises, where one opponent has all the missing trumps. If it is East it is easy for him to refuse to cover as he knows his queen can not be caught, and your slim hope is that he also has four clubs and can not interrupt the run of that suit.
However, if it is West who has them all, it will be difficult for him to realise that he must not take the queen at that particular point. If he does win the queen, declarer can ruff a spade return with the ace and get back to hand with the ace of diamonds and draw trumps with the clubs for the rest of the tricks. If he refuses, declarer is dead unless West also has four clubs.
In the actual hand, all thirteen tricks are made by leading the jack of hearts at trick two.
No self respecting bridge player would care to have his contract depend on the lottery of a two-way finesse.
In our second example, the queen of clubs was the vital card. Some players guessed wrong and went down, but those who believed in the shibboleth of “queen over jack” got home.
However, our particular South gave a virtuosity performance, and demonstrated that the contract was on ice, no matter who had the queen of clubs.
East-West game: South deals
South opened One Spade and, over Two Clubs from North, East came in with Two Diamonds. South somehow found a raise to Three Clubs and North jumped to Four Spades, as on such a sequence South is marked with five spades. Had he four spades and four clubs, he would have opened One Club.
West led the nine of diamonds and East won the ace and returned the nine of hearts, which South allowed to run to the king with West. Winning the heart continuation, South went to dummy with a diamond and led the jack of spades. East covered and South won the ace and led a trump to dummy. East won and exited on a spade to dummy, while West let go a diamond. The jig-saw was now in place.
East had shown three spades, two hearts and on West’s play in diamonds, East has six diamonds, which anyway his vulnerable overcall demanded. It followed that if East had the club queen it would drop.
The queen of hearts was cashed confirming the presumed doubleton with East and South came to hand with the king of clubs. He ran his remaining trumps, discarding two clubs from the table. Under threat of the remaining heart in dummy, West was forced to let go a club and dummy’s heart was thrown.
South was now able to play a club to dummy’s ace, confident that the queen would fall, no matter who had the queen.