Main Article 7H85 by Richard Pavlicek
An average defender is too eager to win tricks, while a clever defender will often be patient and wait. Is there a secret formula to know which path to follow? Yes! It all comes down to counting the tricks, a concept I continually stress in my teaching.
3 NT South
|None Vul|| K 7 4|
K Q 10 7
A J 10 6
9 6 3 2
J 10 9 8
7 4 3 2
| J 10 9 8 5|
A Q 6
K Q 5
|Lead: J|| A Q 6 3|
A 8 4
7 4 3 2
After Easts 1 opening was passed, North was too strong for a balancing 1 NT so he doubled for takeout. South responded 1 NT; North invited game, and South accepted with his maximum.
Normally, it is wise to lead partners suit, but West was dissuaded by his singleton spade and struck gold with the J. Declarer knew the ace was wrong so he ducked in dummy; East overtook with the queen, and played the A and another as the defense ran the suit. Dummy threw two clubs and East a spade.
West shifted to a club, taken by the ace. On the run of the hearts East was hopelessly squeezed, and declarer won the rest making 3 NT.
What went wrong? East forgot to count declarers tricks. It should be obvious declarer can win at most four hearts, three spades and one club eight tricks so there was no hurry to run the diamonds. Patience!
The simplest course is to lead the K at trick two, which sinks declarers ship. If he runs the hearts, East can discard a club and a spade painlessly, and as soon as East gains the lead the contract can be set.
© 1998 Richard Pavlicek