Bridge column, September 8: The points again point to the play
To finish the week, here is another deal in which a defender has a chance to find the right play if he counts the high-card points. However, this one is harder because he must not spend ages finding the correct play.
East is defending against three no-trump. West leads a fourth-highest heart six. What should East do?
South can see seven top tricks: three spades, one heart (given the lead) and three clubs. He will have to drive out the diamond ace, so is in danger of losing at least five red-suit tricks.
East would normally win with his heart ace (third hand high) and return the heart queen (the higher of two remaining cards). However, if he does that here, South will duck this trick, take the third heart, and play a diamond. East will win, but it will be the last trick for the defense.
East must quickly count the points and realize that his partner has perhaps a jack. South must have the heart king. And when you are trying to establish a suit in which the opponents have one stopper, try to make them use up that stopper as soon as possible.
At trick one, East must smoothly put in his queen.
Declarer cannot afford to duck, lest West have ace-jack-fourth. But when South takes the first trick and leads a diamond, down he goes.
That is, declarer cannot afford to duck unless East took so long to play his queen that he has given the game away.
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