Bridge column, October 16: The target is nine, but which nine?
The number of tricks to be won in three no-trump should not be fewer than the number of the Muses nor necessarily exceed the number of Muses -- that is, nine.
In this deal, which nine tricks should South have his eye on after West leads the diamond king?
South starts with seven top tricks: one spade, one heart, one diamond and four clubs. Assuming West has led from the king-queen of diamonds, playing toward dummy's jack will generate another trick. And spades will certainly supply a second winner. So how could this contract be in any jeopardy? Suppose South follows a natural-looking line, taking the first trick, crossing to dummy with a club, and running the spade queen. What happens next?
If West is in midseason form, after winning with his spade king, he will shift to the heart jack -- and suddenly the contract must fail. No matter how declarer ducks and weaves, he will lose at least five tricks before he can get nine.
At trick two, South should lead a low spade toward dummy's queen. If West wins with his king, declarer has three spade tricks and nine in all. If West ducks, South wins in dummy, returns to hand with a club, and plays a diamond toward dummy's jack, establishing his ninth winner. And if East could take the spade queen with the king, he could not lead hearts with effect. Declarer would lead toward dummy's diamond jack at leisure.
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