How do you play K-3-2 opposite A-J-10-9-8? If you already have an answer, thats too bad.A card combination is only part of a deal like a single tree is to a forest.As South, test your skill on these six deals.
How many top tricks do you have?
Which suit or suits offer a chance to succeed?
What is the best play?
A. Lead the J and let it ride.B. Lead the J to the king then finesse the ten.C. Lead the J to the king then win the ace.
Which heart do you play from dummy at trick one?
You win trick one. Which opponent is dangerous?
A. Lead the 2 and finesse the jack.B. Win the K then lead the 2 and finesse the jack.C. Lead the J and let it ride.
Which opponent do you wish to keep off lead?
A. Lead the J and let it ride.B. Lead the J to the king then finesse the 10.C. Lead the J to the king then win the ace.
How many top tricks?
Which suits may provide the extra tricks you need?
Assume you win the A. What is the best play?
A. Duck a club; if clubs do not break 3-3, try the diamond finesse.B. Lead the Q and discard the A.C. Lead the 2 and finesse the jack.
East shifts to the J! How many hearts do you think West held originally?
Who likely has the Q?
A. Lead the 2 and finesse the jack.B. Lead the 2 to the ace then lead the jack and let it ride.C. Lead the 2 to the ace then lead the jack to the king.
You ruff the first trick. Assuming normal defense, who has the K?
who has the Q?
A. Lead the J and let it ride.B. Lead the J to the king then finesse the ten.C. Lead the J to the king then A.
You have six top tricks and two chances for three more: the diamonds or the clubs. After the spade lead, you cannot take both finesses (if one loses, you are down) so the best way to improve your chances is to try to drop the queen of diamonds. If that failed, you could fall back on the club finesse as a last resort.
Clearly, you must keep East off lead (to protect your Q) so you should finesse East in diamonds. Further, you should take a first-round finesse so that dummy can be reentered with the K to take it again. This proves to be necessary when East has four diamonds.
The danger on this hand is the heart suit, not the clubs. If you lost a diamond trick to West, you might be defeated West could switch to the J and sink your ship. Note that if the diamond finesse loses to East, it is impossible for East-West to cash four heart tricks on any lie of the suit.
I tried to fool you here. You have nine top tricks, and if you worked on either diamonds or clubs (or both) you might be set. The foolproof line of play is to unblock your A on the second spade, then force out the K to guarantee 12 tricks.
The early play indicates a blank A with East. Your best chance is to ruff one heart in dummy (with the K) and finesse East for the Q. In order to pick up Q-x-x you must take a first-round finesse.
If you finesse either way for the Q, your chances are about even money. Instead you should play for a 3-2 trump break (about 68 percent) which secures 12 tricks. Eventually, you will ruff a spade in dummy.
© 1994 Richard Pavlicek