aaxx.jpgWhen this hand was originally published in the Daily Bulletin from the Spring National tournament in Reno a few years ago, the author asked every East-West pair who had commented after defending three no-trump, “Well, it’s cold!” to take a second look, and then apologize to Brigidda the Goddess of Bridge. Partner leads the spade five against three no-trumps. Your queen wins as declarer follows with the two.


In three no-trump South ducked the first spade, won East’s continuation of the 3, and guessed well to knock out the club honours and claim 400. All declarer lost was the two clubs, the spade queen, and the fourth spade.

So what’s the point of the hand? Declarer guessed correctly as to whether to play on clubs or on hearts – big deal.

All that is true… but East was asleep at the wheel. By counting the high-card points he knows partner has precisely jack-fourth of spades, but he also knows that declarer can’t see through the backs of the cards. East should return the 8 at the second trick, simulating a remaining doubleton, then hop up with the club ace at his first turn and play the 6 back.

Surely declarer’s best line now must be to take an immediate heart finesse before tackling clubs again – a line that would lead to immediate defeat if West had five spades and the club king. If the heart finesse loses and spades are 5-3 as expected, then declarer can revert to clubs and still succeed if East has the missing club honour. Unlucky! The losing heart finesse represents the defenders’ fifth winner.