Main     Article 7K09 by Richard Pavlicek    

Where’s the Queen?

This month’s deal occurred at the FLBC some years back. Those who guessed how to play the heart suit won 11 tricks; those who didn’t won only 10 tricks. The difference, a simple overtrick, is quite significant at matchpoint scoring. Would you guess it right?

4 H by South

N-S Vul
S A J 8 3
H K 9 5 2
D K 8 2
C 10 2
S K 5
H Q 8 7
D 7 6 5
C Q J 9 7 4
TableS 10 9 7 6 2
H
D J 10 9 3
C A K 8 6
Lead: C QS Q 4
H A J 10 6 4 3
D A Q 4
C 5 3

West

Pass
All Pass
North

3 H
East

Pass
South
1 H
4 H

North’s jump to 3 H was a limit raise showing 10-12 points and invitational to game. South held minimum high-card strength, but the possession of a six-card suit was ample incentive to bid game.

Assume West leads the C Q, and the defenders cash two club tricks then shift to a diamond. The problem is which top heart to cash first; either play could be right depending on which opponent, if any, held Q-x-x.

There are many reasonings one might use: (1) Cash the king because it is in the shorter hand; (2) cash the ace since the queen lies over the jack; (3) lead the jack and, if West does not cover, play the king; (4) cash the ace since West has shown more high cards.

None of these are valid. The only slight indication is that West had an opportunity to bid at a low level; with a heart void at favorable vulnerability, he might have done so. Therefore, cash the H A in case East is void.

The astute reader may notice another advantage in cashing the H A first. It guarantees the contract. If East instead held H Q-x-x, declarer would cash the H K and all his diamond winners, then exit with a heart. East would be endplayed!

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© 1997 Richard Pavlicek