The One Card Keystone By Ely Culbertson
The known location of one card often is the keystone on which declarer’s entire plan of play should be based.
The Montreal Gazette – 23 May 1938 (only 79 years ago)
The known location of one card often is the keystone on which declarer’s entire plan of play should be based. As in today’s hand, for example:
South, dealer. North-South, vulnerable.
2 Strong….remember this article is from 79 years ago…
West opened the spade king, declarer saw that his contract was absolutely safe unless he were to run into a bad break of clubs, in which case there might be a club and a diamond loser. Winning with the spade ace, he drew three rounds of trumps and then hopefully cashed the ace and king of clubs. When, to his disgust, East showed out on the second round, it was revealed that West had the club suit stopped. Declarer pondered and squirmed trying to find a means of disposing of his club loser.
Finally he concluded that the only chance was to play West for the king and queen of diamonds. If he held them, successive leads toward the ace-jack would establish a diamond trick upon which to discard the club three. With that hope declarer led a diamond and, when West played low, put in the jack. East dashed declarer’s hopes by winning with the queen and returning a spade.
Declarer had to ruff, and ended up ingloriously by conceding West the last trick in clubs. Had there been no other play for the contract, declarer’s dependence on the play of the diamonds would have been logical, but actually there was a plan available that was bound to succeed.
West’s opening lead of the spade king had marked him with the queen also. He had been discovered to hold four clubs to the jack. All declarer had to do then was run off every heart until he was reduced to his original two diamonds and Q-3 of clubs.
West at this point, would have to hold the J-9 of clubs and the queen of spades, hence could keep only one other card. On a diamond lead to the ace West would have to discard that fourth card, whatever it was, and reduce himself to the spade queen and J-9 of clubs. Thereupon the lead of the spade jack would throw him on lead and force a club return from the J-7 to the combined N-S tenace, Thus, the location of the spade queen was all that declarer needed to know in order to insure his contract.
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