When this hand was dealt at a local duplicate game, a number of pairs ended up in the three notrump contract. Some Wests elected to lead the Jack of diamonds. That gave the declarer a third trick in the suit, because he could finesse East for the queen later, and the contract was easy.
One West hit upon his own suit to launch the attack. Declarer elected to let the king hold and ducked again when East continued with the 10. That was a case of “too much duck.” East shifted to a diamond, and declarer had to lose a diamond and two spades for down one.
Declarer must establish a trick in spades to make the contract, and in view of East’s opening bid, he will have to surrender the lead twice to do so. He can get home if he wins a second club and forces out the ace and queen of spades. Even if East shifts to a diamond after winning the first spade, declarer simply wins the diamond and knocks out the remaining spade stopper to set up his ninth trick.
It might seem that three notrump can be defeated if, after winning the king of clubs, East shifts to a diamond. If declarer guesses the distribution, he can still make the contract.
Play West for the doubleton honor in diamonds — declarer can make the contract by rising with a diamond honor at trick two. He loses a spade to East, and the defenders are helpless. If East continues with a low diamond, declarer ducks, and West has no diamond to return. If East leads a diamond honor, his partner’s Jack crashes, and declarer has his ninth trick in diamonds.
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Donna Swan is a resident of Longboat Key, an ardent bridge player and an American Contract Bridge League certified director who plays “for the fun of it.”