Opening lead: king of hearts
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and certainly this age-old adage can sometimes be successfully applied at the bridge table.
Consider today’s deal where West leads the king of hearts against six spades. Declarer wins with the ace and plays the A-K of trumps, hoping the queen will fall. In that case, a winning diamond finesse would bring matters to a happy conclusion.
But East shows out on the second round of trumps, and South is in serious trouble. He now needs more than a successful diamond finesse, because even if West has the queen and the diamonds are divided normally — that is, 3-2 — he still cannot make the slam. West would ruff the third or fourth round of diamonds and cash the queen of hearts to put the contract down one.
Declarer cannot accept an assumption that will surely lead to defeat, so he is forced to assume not only that West has the queen of diamonds, but also that West has four diamonds rather than two or three. That is the only hope he has to make the slam.
Accordingly, South starts by leading the eight of diamonds to the king at trick four (to guard against East holding the singleton 10 or queen), then crosses to the ace of clubs and leads the nine of diamonds.
West’s play at this point does not matter. If he follows low, South also plays low from dummy, then takes another diamond finesse and gets rid of both his heart losers before West can ruff.
If West covers the nine with the 10, South finesses the jack, ruffs a club and then finesses the seven of diamonds to achieve the same result. Once South makes the proper assumption, West is helpless.
For details about local bridge events, go to the HK Contract Bridge Association website www.hkcba.org