Source: www.andrewrobson.co.uk

You have led low and dummy has only low cards. Because the third player should play high, but cheaper of touching highest cards, you can draw huge inferences.

Exercise:

What can you as West work out about the location of the missing honours in each case?

  • (a) Declarer would not winHeart SuitA unless he had to, so East must have Heart SuitQJ, entirely consistent with his play of Heart Suit10, cheaper of equals.
  • (b) East would have played Heart SuitJ if he had it, so declarer has Heart SuitJ.
  • (c) Declarer would have won Heart SuitQ if he had it. Therefore East has Heart SuitQ. As to Heart Suit10, East would have played the cheaper card from Heart SuitQJ10, so declarer must have it.
  • (d) Partner would have played Heart SuitA (third hand high) if he had it. So declarer has Heart SuitA. Declarer must also have Heart Suit10, or partner would have played the cheaper Heart Suit10 (rather than Heart SuitJ).

  1. Upgrading, given the sequentially rich five-card suit.

What happened
West led Spade Suit3 vs 3NT, and Trick One went Spade Suit3, Spade Suit2, Spade SuitJ, Spade SuitQ. At Trick Two declarer led Club Suit9, and West won Club SuitK. He then led Spade Suit6. Declarer wonSpade Suit10 and drove out Club SuitA. West persevered withSpade Suit 8, but declarer could winSpade Suit A and cash his minor-suit winners. Game made plus one.

What should have happened
Trick One reveals to West that declarer holds Spade SuitA (partner would have played Spade SuitA as third hand high if he held the card). It also reveals that declarer holds Spade Suit10 – East would have played the cheaper Spade Suit10 from Spade SuitJ10. So when at Trick Two West wins Club Suit K, he must not lead a second spade, rather try to put East on play for a spade through declarer’s known Spade SuitA10. Looking at dummy, it is clear for West to switch to hearts (the weakness), and he selects Heart Suit9, as a high for hate lead. East wins Heart SuitA and reverts to Spade Suit9 (top from two remaining). West beats declarer’s Spade Suit10 with Spade SuitK, returns Spade Suit6 to Spade SuitA, then wins the second club with Club Suit A and cashes Spade Suit8. Down one.

If you remember one thing…

Partner’s third hand play (high but cheaper of touching highest) can tell the leader a huge amount about the layout of the suit.