Source: The Victoria Advocate

North-South vulnerable, West deals

Lead: Spade SuitK

There are common misconceptions about playing certain suit combinations. For example, consider these two holdings:  x x x opposite A K J 10 x and x x opposite A K J 10 x x. With ample entries to the hands, should these combined eight-card holdings be tackled the same way?

The auction was interesting East’s one no trump response was an attempt, at favorable vulnerability, to bluff the opponents out of their due. Since North was a passed hand, his three-diamond bid had to denote heart tolerance. The final contract was perfectly reasonable. West led the king of spades and shifted to a low club. Declarer won in hand, cashed the king of trumps and led a diamond to dummy’s ten, which held. A trump finesse succeeded, but when West showed out, declarer was saddled with a trump loser.

He switched to the king of diamonds West grabbed the ace and played another club, and as the cards lay, declarer had to lose a club trick and the trump—down one.

Had the combined trump holding been distributed 5-3, declarer’s play would have been correct, since he could afford to guard against a singleton queen offside before taking the finesse.

Now, if West shows out on the second round of trumps, declarer can get back to dummy for another finesse. However, when the suit is divided 6-2, the odds change dramatically. Since declarer is going to finesse, he should not first cash the king, because the chances of East holding four trumps headed by the queen are considerably greater than finding West with specifically a singleton queen. Had declarer immediately taken two finesses for the queen, he would have landed his vulnerable game.