Wednesday Play at The Hutt (18)

Last Wednesday's board 20 provided us with a simple lesson in declarer play, but simple as it may seem, only three Wests out of thirteen managed to make all the available thirteen tricks, either in No Trumps or spades. West has a standard 1NT (12-14) opening bid and East, with both the majors, should look for a major suit fit with a Stayman 2C bid. But some Easts may be either too ignorant, or too lazy, or too confident because of their high point count, and bid 3NT without bothering about the majors. That is a moot point and of no relevance to what we want to discuss, which is basic declarer play to make as many tricks as possible and as safely as possible. Take a look:

Board 20 from Wednesday 7/04/2021
Dealer W All Vul


Let’s say West is in 4S. North leads a diamond, as many did. That picks up the king from South without declarer needing to do anything further. Next, declarer must play on trumps. With such a solid sequence in dummy and the queen in hand, a finesse against North’s hoped for king can be easily done, and repeated if necessary. The queen is led from hand and if North does not play the king, declarer can repeat the spade play, leading a low one to the ten if North again plays low. This way, even if North has started will four trumps, the king can be picked up. The heart suit is the obvious one to play on next, and declarer plays the ace and the queen, which unblocks the suit and allows dummy to take the king. There is no shortage of entries to dummy because declarer has no reason to grab the two top clubs immediately.

After the ace and queen of hearts, declarer crosses to dummy with the king of clubs and cashes the king of hearts. This now fells the jack from North and any declarer with open eyes can see that the ten is now good. The ten is now taken and the rest of the tricks cashed, thirteen in all. The same thing would happen in a 3NT contract but without any need to take more than two early spades. The moment the king of spades appears, declarer can go about setting up and taking the rest of the tricks, all that is necessary is to make sure that the AQ of hearts is taken to get out of the way of the king. The falling of the jack of hearts is a bonus, and as the cards lie, thirteen tricks are surely not too difficult as long as declarer knows how to finesse, which is the first thing every aspiring declarer should learn.