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September 26, 1999
3NT - Declare or Defend?

Another interesting hand I recently came across that deals with the hold up play, card combinations, and entry preservation. Look at the hand and consider the contract.

Would you rather be declarer or defender? Which one stands a better chance for success?

spade.gif (842 bytes)62
heart.gif (841 bytes)A42
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KQ10962
West club.gif (841 bytes)75 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q spade.gif (842 bytes)J109854
heart.gif (841 bytes)J10987 heart.gif (841 bytes)65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)87 diamond.gif (837 bytes)AJ3
club.gif (841 bytes)Q9642 South club.gif (841 bytes)J10
spade.gif (842 bytes)AK73
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQ3
diamond.gif (837 bytes)54
club.gif (841 bytes)AK83


West North East South
Pass 1club.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 1spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 3diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead: heart.gif (841 bytes)J

You probably chose declarer.

South, declarer, has 7 sure winners ( 2 spades, 3 hearts, and 2 clubs). South will need to develop two additional winners from the diamond suit. Since the heart.gif (841 bytes)A may well be needed as an entry to the North hand, declarer takes care to win the opening lead in the South hand.

What now?

No problem, you say. South leads a diamond to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K and East wins the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A.

No matter what East does now, South can make the hand. Win any return (if a heart, then win in the South hand) and lead a damond to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q. South now gives up a diamond to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)J and takes the rest of the tricks making five (2 spades, 3 hearts, 4 diamonds, and 2 clubs).

Not so fast. Perhaps defender is a better choice.

East is a better player than you think. East simply holds up on the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and lets your diamond.gif (837 bytes)K win the first diamond trick. East now holds the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and diamond.gif (837 bytes)J behind the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q and diamond.gif (837 bytes)10. If you continue to work on diamonds you will be one entry short. You can established the needed diamond tricks, but cannot reach dummy to cash them.

You will need two side entries and only have one. This hold up play by East limits you to eight tricks and down one!

So defender is your choice, right?

Wrong. You should declare.

Declarer can prevail. Win the heart lead in the South hand and attack diamonds by leading small to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)10. East can win the diamond.gif (837 bytes)J (ducking just costs the defense a trick), but now you can easily establish the diamonds and get back to dummy to enjoy them. This play will work irrespective of the location of the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and diamond.gif (837 bytes)J.

Gary King

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