How Would you Play? by Milton Work

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West did not wish to open her Clubs headed by an Ace-Queen, nor her short Diamonds headed by King-Ten…

Milton Work 2
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Source: Collier’s November 3, 1928Colliers Noviembre 3 1928

Contract: 4 by South

The Play

West did not wish to open her Clubs headed by an Ace-Queen, nor her short Diamonds headed by King-Ten; so she was reduced to a choice between a singleton trump and four worthless Hearts. Many thoughtless players, with hands containing uninviting plain suit openings start by leading a singleton trump.

In this case, West led her Deuce of Hearts and Dummy played the Five. East knew that West’s Deuce was either a singleton or a fourth hest; if a singleton South must hold four (the Ace and three others) Hearts.

East could depend upon West, when leading against a trump contract, not to open a small card of an Ace suit. East played her valet of Hearts on the first trick—a play that involved no risk whatever if West had led a singleton and South held four Hearts.

If South had a singleton Ace, East’s duck was obviously advantageous; if West was leading the improbable singleton, East, by playing low on the first trick, must eventually make two Hearts; she would , not make more if she played the Nine.

Declarer led the Queen of Spades to trick 2: and the Six of Spades to trick 3, taking with the King in Dummy. This made Dummy’s Spade Four an entry which might he seriously needed. Having exhausted the adverse trumps and knowing that a Heart lead from Dummy would be useless, Declarer tried the expedient of leading a small Diamond from that hand.

She must lose two Diamond tricks and one Club trick. If she loses only three tricks, she will go game; but if the Ace of Clubs is held by West, South’s only chance of not losing two Club tricks is to have West lead that suit, or to be able to establish a long Diamond in Dummy.

The first Diamond was won by East with the Jack and she, realizing that a continuation of her partner’s Hearts up to Dummy’s Q-10-8 would be fatal and returning the adverse Diamonds foolish, had but one lead left: the Jack of Clubs. South had no course but to make an almost hopeless cover with the King; and the adversaries, taking two Club tricks and two Diamond tricks, saved game.

If East had played her Nine of Hearts at trick 1, North would not have led a Diamond at trick 3 but would have led her Ten of Hearts. East would have covered with the Jack, South would have trumped and then put North in with the Four of trumps. North then would have led her Queen of Hearts, which East would have covered with the King. South would have ruffed once more, put North in with the Ace of Diamonds to cast a good Heart and give South the discards he needed to make his game. The winning or losing of the game therefore hinged on East’s play to trick 1.

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