Problem Corner by Patrick Jourdain
How should West play Three Notrumps? North, who as dealer, opened 1♠, showing five, leads a diamond.
Answer to Prize problem 249
Assume North has the missing honours and less than four hearts. If declarer plays a club at once North wins and plays a second diamond. The run of the diamonds squeezes West in front of North.
Instead, declarer should cash precisely one heart and then play a club. North wins and plays a second diamond. The difference is that now declarer can run the diamonds throwing two big hearts from hand and follow with the ♥J. Five cards remain and the number of spades North holds is known.
Suppose North has three spades. Then, without cashing the last heart, East exits with a club. North can win and exit to either hand but is then endplayed with a spade. If North keeps only two spades East can cash the third heart throwing a spade from hand and come to a club trick later.
Non-prize problem for October 2010 (Make that September!)
How should West play Four Spades? North leads a heart to South’s ace, the jack of hearts wins the next trick and then the defence force a trump off dummy.
Answer to non-prize problem
The deal is from the 1999 IOC Grand Prix semifinal between Italy and France. The defenders were Lauria & Versace. North held ♠Q 8 7 5 and a singleton diamond. The French declarer erred by playing ace of trumps and then a low one to the nine but the defender let this hold and there was no recovery. If you start by running the ten that is better but still leads to defeat if North ducks.
The only winning line is to start with a low spade to the nine. If that loses you are in control.
If it holds, you now play a low spade to the ten! If that loses the trumps are 3-2, and if it wins you can draw trumps using the diamond ace to return, and run the diamonds.
This is a real-life example of the textbook safety play where you finesse in both directions to succeed.
This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine