What & Why (22)

You are South and declarer in 4H after West has opened a weak 2D and East raised to 3D. West leads the ace of diamonds, and when East signals encouragement, West continues with a second diamond. How would you play the contract?

Dealer W All Vul


Two Questions:

1. WHAT led to declarer’s downfall in 4H after East opened 1S

It is easy to see that 4H should not make as the cards lie. In the case where East opened 1S and NS ended up in 4H, West’s opening lead was a 100% no brainer, and after West led the king of spades declarer had no chance and had to lose two spade tricks as well as a diamond and a club. I’m not saying that justifies the 1S third in hand opening. But...

2. How did the two who made 4H after a 2D opening by West make their 4H contract and WHY they should not have

When the diamonds were led to start, declarer can see some hope. Declarer plays three rounds of clubs after drawing trumps. West wins the third round with the ten and has what looks like a safe continuation with the queen, which declarer ruffs. Now comes declarer’s one chance of making the contract: if West has Kx or Qx (KQ doubleton is unlikely) of spades, then when declarer plays the ace and another, if West wins the king or queen, he will only have diamonds left, and the lead of a diamond will allow declarer to ruff in one hand and discard a spade loser from the other. The ‘ruff and slough’ is a common enough play used by good declarers, but even if very well planned and executed by declarer in this particular deal, would never succeed against good defence. West should see it coming and, on declarer’s ace of spades, jettison the blocking spade honour, whether it is the queen or king, and allow East to score the two required spade tricks. Note that it cannot cost for West to throw the blocking spade honour because the end play should be clear to anyone following the play. Sometimes declarer can disguise his intentions by cashing the ace much earlier in the play but that is unlikely to succeed in this deal.