Despite holding a beautiful hand, many declarers failed in the standard game contract. To succeed merely requires a little good fortune, and some textbook suit-establishment technique.

Dealer: East
N/S Game


Some North players responded 1NT, but 4S was always reached. The only safe lead is a trump. Declarer should conclude that, if West holds A♥, he faces three heart losers and K♣. To discard a heart loser on dummy’s long diamonds is therefore the winning line.

Declarer wins in hand with a top trump, and must resist the temptation to draw a second round.

Diamonds should be played next: K♦, A♦, and then a ruff, with a high trump in hand. When the diamonds fail to divide, the trumps must break 2-2 in order for South to prevail. Declarer leads 8♠ from hand to dummy’s 10♠ — noting that both opponents do follow — and then he ruffs a second low diamond in hand, again with a high trump.

Now, declarer’s carefully preserved 3♠ comes to the fore: overtaken in dummy with 4♠, and J♦ cashed, on which South can pitch a low heart. Still in dummy, a heart can be led towards K♥. This loses to West’s A♥, but the contract is secure.

For strong players, this is standard stuff but, if you found it challenging, lay out the hand at home and play it through: it is crucial to your game to be able establish a long suit like this.

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

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