Good play by both the opponent on lead and declarer made this simple hand more interesting.

Dealer South
E/W Game


In no-trump contracts, everyone aims for the same thing: lead your side’s longest suit, regain the lead, and continue that suit until you have winners to cash. 

Reasoning that, with a weak hand, lacking both length or fast re-entry, West concluded that to lead his own longest suit would be suboptimal so instead sought to find his partner’s long suit — and re-entries. He opted for 9♠. At the other table, West led 4♥, and nine tricks were simple. Here, declarer had to make good decisions to bring home the contract. 

9♠ could not be a fourth highest lead, and was likely from a two- or three-card holding. Concluding that the spade finesse would lose, declarer must decide whether to rise with A♠ immediately or to hold up for two rounds. To solve the dilemma, declarer need only ask himself to which opponent he must subsequently risk losing the lead. In this case, the club finesse must be taken and it is only East who might win that trick. Therefore, if South rises with A♠ at trick one, gets to hand with A♦ and takes the club finesse, even if — and, in this case, when — East wins his K♣, dummy’s ♠Q4 is still a solid stopper. If South plays any card other than A♠ at trick one, he goes down. Playing correctly, nine tricks are assured.

Paul Mendelson’s new book, ‘The Joy of Bridge’, is out now

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