If you can anticipate a bad situation, foresee little problems and overcome them; at duplicate pairs, you should welcome them. Traps will cost average players dearly, but the attentive player will succeed.

Dealer: South
Game All


Almost everyone played in 3NT and received 6♣ lead. When dummy’s Q♣ holds the first trick, declarer feels much relieved. He returns to hand with a top heart and leads a low diamond towards dummy’s strong holding, losing K♦ to East’s A♦. All OK so far? Not if West remains alert to the diamond position.

East returns 10♣, clearing the suit. Declarer leads a second diamond to dummy’s Q♦ and East shows out. Later, when South leads a third diamond, perhaps 9♦, West will not cover and declarer is stuck: if he ducks in dummy, he is sealed off from his two winning diamonds; if he overtakes, West’s 10♦ is still the master. Perhaps he does overtake and tries the spade finesse. That doesn’t go well.

Did you spot the potential blockage of the diamond suit? If so, to ensure that an unblocking finesse position exists, declarer must lead 9♦ to dummy’s K♦ and 8♦ to dummy’s Q♦. Now, when he plays the third round, he leads 6♦ and, when West plays low, dummy’s 7♦ wins. J♦ pulls West’s 10♦, and the contract is fulfilled.

Read Paul’s previous Bridge columns at ft.com/bridge-card-game

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