“Counting your tricks. The avoidance play. Which finesse? Defensive discarding.”

Dealer South. Neither Vul

7 3 2
K J 8
7 4
A J 6 5 2
A Q 8 6 4
Q 5 4 3 2
8 7
10 5
10 9 7
J 10 9 8 6
Q 10 9
K J 9
A 6
A K Q 3 2
K 4 3
West North East South
Pass 3NT Pass Pass

Opening lead: 6

Lead commentary: As West, a strong lead against notrump is low from A–Q-x–x–x-(x). If partner has the jack or can get in and lead through declarer’s probable king, you have a good chance of taking a bundle of tricks. The returns are not nearly as great when leading low from A–Q–x–x.

Defensive commentary: As West, when the 10 at trick loses to the jack, South is marked with the K J 9. Partner’s 10 denies both the 9 and the K.

Eddie Kantar
Eddie Kantar

Play commentary: As South, you have eight top tricks and the idea is to set up a ninth without allowing East, the danger hand, in to push a spade through your vulnerable K 9. You should know that West has the A–Q from East’s thirdhand play of the 10. It must be right to start with the A and K. No luck there when West discards a heart on the second diamond. You remain with a choice of two queen finesses for your ninth trick. When you have a choice of two queen finesses, play the ace and then the king of the longer suit (clubs in this case). If the queen doesn’t drop, take a finesse in the shorter suit, hearts. If you do that, you survive this diabolical layout.

Defensive commentary #2: As East, when declarer leads a high diamond, play the J, conventionally showing partner a sequence headed by the jack. As West, when discarding on the second diamond, discard from length (hearts), not shortness (clubs). If you discard from a doubleton and then show out on the second round of the suit, declarer knows partner’s exact holding in that suit. It’s called giving away the show – and drives partners crazy!

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