An Example of Prestidigitation
On 30 July, 2014 At 13:15
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Source: Reading Eagle – Oct 12, 2005 by Steve Becker
The outcome of many contracts frequently hinges on how the defenders cards are divided. A bad break in a suit or the unfavorable location of a particular card can do in many a reasonable contract.
Nevertheless there are many hands where declarer has the worst of the luck, as the cards happen to be dealt, and yet can overcome his misfortune through the use of skill. These are the hands that appeal most to students of the game.
Consider this deal where South is in six club. At first blush, the contract appears to depend on whether East was dealt one or both of the missing diamond honors.
The obvious approach would seem to be to draw trumps and take two diamond finesses through East, hoping he was dealt the king or queen – or both. As can be seen, this method would result in the loss of the slam.
But promising as this line of play is, it is not the right way to play the hand. Even though declarer is a 3 to 1 favorite to make the contract in this manner, he should not stake the outcome solely on the luck of the deal.
He can increase his chances substantially by attempting an elimination play to cover the possibility of bad luck. After winning the spade lead with the ace, he promptly trumps a spade.
Two rounds of trump are then drawn ending in dummy. At this point having found the clubs divided evenly declarer can feel 100 percent certain of the contract. He ruffs the queen of spades and cashes three hearts, discarding a diamond from his hand.
He now leads the jack of diamonds and lets it ride. West wins but has no safe return. Dummy’s remaining four cards are two diamonds and two clubs, while South has three diamonds and one club. West must lead a diamond or give declarer a ruff and discard, and either way, the slam is home.
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