Opening lead: queen of diamonds
The expert declarer’s greatest advantage over less-experienced performers is the ability to read how the unseen cards are divided. Playing a hand is naturally much easier if you know the location of all 52 cards.
Assume you’re in five clubs and East cashes two diamonds before shifting to a trump. Obviously, winning the rest of the tricks would be simple enough if you knew which of the opponents had the queen of hearts. But you don’t, so you embark on a line of play that you hope will improve your chances of locating the queen.
You draw two rounds of trumps, cash the A-K of spades, then ruff a spade. The sole purpose of this manoeuvre is to learn as much as you can about the opposing spade distribution.
You now ruff a diamond in dummy, and when West shows out, you learn that East started with six diamonds. You earlier discovered that he had started with two clubs.
Next, you ruff dummy’s last spade, this time finding out that East started with four spades. This is a most satisfying development, because with 12 of East’s 13 cards accounted for, you now know that he started with precisely one heart.
So you play the king and another heart, finessing the jack with 100 per cent certainty that it will win the trick.
Observe that, had you not gone to the trouble of finding out how the opponent’s cards were divided in the other three suits, you might have taken the heart finesse the wrong way and gone down one.
All of which suggests that the miraculous feats of those who always seem to guess correctly are more often the fruit of hard work than inherent genius.
For details about local bridge events, go to the HK Contract Bridge Association website.