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A Matter of Timing

J 6
K J 5
Q 7 6 2
A K 8 4
A 8 7 5
Q 10 3
10 8 4
Q 6 2
 
9 3 2
A 9 8 4 2
J 9 3
J 5
K Q 10 4
7 6
A K 5
10 9 7 3
A heart lead sets 3 NT - West gets in eventually with the A to continue the suit.
In 5 , the defense gets a heart, a spade, and a club.
In 5 , it seems like declarer might be able to pitch losing clubs on spades. The problem is a lack of entries to the North hand. Declarer has to take his spades after the trumps are drawn, and must ruff the heart loser before the trumps are drawn. But then where is the entry to the spades if East hold up a round?
The only game which makes is 4 . The defense has no way of keeping declarer from scoring three spades, a heart, four diamonds and two clubs.
Their best bet is to try to force declarer with hearts. Timing is everything. Declarer needs to fear this position, with the opponents on lead:
K
Q 7 6 2
A K 8 4
8 7
3
10 8 4
Q 6 2
 
9
A 9 2
J 9 3
J 5
K Q
A K 5
10 9 7 3
Declarer doesn't mind losing a second heart, pitching a club, but if East wins the third round and leads the fourth declarer is stuck.
The trick, then, is to lose the two heart tricks early, to cut off the entry to East's hand.
If West leads the 10 or 3, declarer plays low from dummy. Say West continues hearts. Declarer covers, and if East ducks, declarer immediately exits with a heart, pitching a club from hand. East cannot profitably lead a fourth round of hearts, because declarer still has two trumps in dummy. But this the last time East will get the lead.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2014.
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