X-Clubs Play 24

Many of your declarer problems will have no sure fire solutions, but you can always give yourself a better chance if you give the problem a bit of thought. As well as that, with a bit of ‘table presence’ and insight into your opponents’ behaviour.

Board 12 from Thursday 21/07/22
Dealer West NS Vul


The bidding would have been almost universal, 1S from North, 2H from South, 2S from North, 4S from South, EW passing throughout (does that give you a hint?). Across X-Clubs, two out of every three declarers in 4S failed to make. I can’t say how the play went in all cases, but let’s say East started with two top diamonds, and then switched to the six of hearts. How should declarer proceed?

One of the successful declarers reasoned thus: when he opened the bidding with 1S, East did not show any interest and passed fairly quickly. Against 4S, East started with the top two diamonds. Was East likely to also hold the ace of spades? Hardly likely, especially if East had five diamonds. So, assuming that WEST had the ace of spades, should declarer also play West for the jack as well? Clearly, trumps had to be drawn, and declarer had to hope there was no heart ruff. Hence, East hopefully had two hearts. Could declarer give West a chance to go wrong? Possibly if West believed that East had a singleton heart. Declarer therefore won the ten of hearts in dummy and called for the four of spades. When West played low, declarer went up with the queen. East followed with the two, so declarer’s theory was confirmed, East did not have the spade ace. Declarer led a second spade from hand and when East played low, finessed the nine. West won the ace and tried a heart, without much hope. Why? Because West was a good defender and knew that declarer could not have three hearts, having not raised South’s 2H response.

I wonder how many of the successful declarers were handed the contract by inferior defence and how many actually made, and deserved to make. At least they did better than the majority. Were you one of the successful ones, and why?