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The Only Chance

North Deals
N-S Vul
A Q J 5
9 6 4
A J 6 4
7 4
K 7 4
J 10 8 5 3
7 2
A K 8
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
All Pass

I do not agree with my partner's 2 call - he should probably only raise on a bad three-card fit when there is no other decent bid, and certainly 1 is crying out as another option. My 4 call was probably as questionable.
My LHO made the least comfortable lead - the 10.
So, it looks like I've got a diamond loser and three heart losers - was there any way around that?
If the opponents never led diamonds, I'd have been able to eventually pitch my diamond loser on a spade (of course, if they drew trumps, I'd be stuck with a club loser...)
But I did find one line which gave me a shot. If spades split 3-3 and either player has three hearts to a single honor, I can make by running spades. On the fourth spade, the situation might look like:
9 6 4
J 6 4
7 4
Q x x
Q J x x
K x x
K x
10 x x x
J 10 8 5 3
A K 8
Whatever East does, I pitch the diamond. If East ruffs, they get at most three trump tricks, and if West ruffs with a high trump, again they only get three trump tricks.
As it was, my line not only failed, but cost me a trick when West ruffed the third round of spades. My partner, who had left the virtual table to do some household chore, came back and asked 'how did you go down two?'
Dan Piro notices you can play a little deception on East if he holds two spades and any three hearts by varying the order in which you play your spades. Start with a low spade to the queen, then play the ace and a low spade back to your (now bare) king. If East started with two spades he might play you for starting with two small spades and decide to not ruff. Then you ruff a club in dummy and lead a spade to pitch your diamond.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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