Some teams or pairs declarer play conundrums
This week’s hand is one of those teams/pairs declarer play conundrums so I will treat those two situations separately (see Figure 1).
You are in a team game with the South hand – you open 1 heart, partner raises to 2 hearts and with your 21 points you bid 4 hearts. West leads a trump, which is actually not what you want. How do you play the hand just to make your contract? Overtricks are relatively unimportant at teams. While you are thinking this over a hint might be describing one card of the 26 you see as a “tender trap” …….
You want to try and ruff a diamond so you take the finesse at trick two, which loses and another trump is played - you are now beginning to feel a bit uneasy. You play a diamond to the Ace and try a low spade off the board to try and get to your hand – West wins and plays the last trump and the contract is defeated, losing two diamonds and the two black Aces.
See the full hand in Figure 2:
Do you see the “tender trap” card? It is the diamond Queen.
Let’s look at the hand with a low diamond in the North hand instead of the queen (see Figure 3).
Now the play of the hand is easy – win the heart and play Ace and another diamond!
The defence now can’t stop you from ruffing a diamond and all you lose is a diamond and the two black aces – contract made.
So going back to the original hand , that is how you must play the hand at teams – at trick two, play a diamond to the Ace and then play the Queen, eschewing the finesse. Once again your contract is guaranteed. Hard to do, I know, but all you want is your contract and you cannot jeopardise it for overtricks.
Now, how would you play the hand at pairs, where overtricks do matter? I think you have to go with the field and take the diamond hook, but before that, at trick two, I would try the club King – this will get taken by the Ace and another trump comes back but you have created an extra chance.
You win the trump and now try the diamond finesse - when this loses East may not have the last trump to play, but even if he does you can win it and play the Queen, and Jack of clubs.
If clubs are 3-3 you now cross to the diamond and throw your losing diamond on the 13th club, making the contract.
None of that works on this hand, but it will in many, so I think the diamond finesse plus the other chances tilt me in favour of the win or bust play at pairs. Also, as I said earlier, you know the field is going to take the diamond finesse so you will be in good company if you go down!