2017-08-09 / Arts & Entertainment News

When and how to lose a trick


Most mistakes made by declarer are basically simple errors. The hands that are easy to play correctly by far outnumber the more complicated ones; they require only ordinary care to achieve the best result.

Take this case where South reached five spades doubled on the auction shown. He ruffed the heart lead in dummy and led a spade to the ace, catching West’s king. The A-K of diamonds were then cashed, felling East’s queen, and the jack of diamonds was led. East ruffed with the queen and returned a club, and West cashed two club tricks to put the contract down one.

The approach adopted by South violated a basic principle of declarer play, and it eventually cost him the contract. South's plan from the start should have been to prevent East from gaining the lead, if at all possible.

In line with that policy, when he led a trump from dummy at trick two, South should have finessed the jack instead of going up with the ace. He should have been willing to lose a trump trick to West, the non-danger hand. Furthermore, the finesse was a safety play against the possibility that East might have all three missing trumps.

In the actual case, West would win the jack with the king, placing him in a hopeless position. In fact, if West didn’t cash the ace of clubs at this point, South would wind up making the contract with an overtrick.

As happens so often, declarer encountered a situation where the outcome depended largely on his ability to keep a particular opponent off lead. There was nothing South could lose by taking a trump finesse at trick two, and a great deal he could lose if he did not take the finesse. His failure to make this relatively simple play turned out to be a very costly error. ¦

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