Opening lead: queen of hearts
Guessing situations arise all the time, but the mark of a fine declarer is that he nearly always guesses correctly. For example, consider the spade combination here. South cannot lose a trick in the suit if the missing spades are divided 2-1, but if they break 3-0, how he fares will depend on whether he cashes the ace or king first.
If he plays the ace and West shows out, he will lose a trump trick to East. If he plays the king and East shows out, he will lose a trump trick to West. If he subsequently loses a club trick, he will finish down one.
South can’t be certain how to tackle the spade combination, but he should conclude that there is a right way to initiate the suit because of the situation in the club suit.
East-West began by playing three rounds of hearts, declarer ruffing the third. South then led a trump to the king, and when West showed out, East’s queen was neutralised and the contract was assured. Declarer later lost a club finesse but made four spades.
South’s decision to play the spades as he did was not just a lucky shot, because it ensured the contract 100 per cent. Had he instead cashed the ace first, he would have jeopardised the contract.
Let’s suppose East had shown out on the king of trumps, which might have happened. This would not have sunk the contract, since South was all set to handle such a contingency. He would have cashed the ace of trumps and K-A of diamonds next, then ruffed a diamond. A trump lead would then have forced West to win and return a club or concede a ruff-and-discard.
By playing the trumps as he did, declarer was in the happy position where, even if it turned out that he was wrong, he would still be right.
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