Dealer South All Vul

K Q 6
Q J 10
A 9 8 6 2
9 3
7 3
K 5 2
10 4 3
A 8 6 5 2
A 9 8 4
8 3
J 7 5
J 10 7 4
J 10 5 2
A 9 7 6 4
K Q
K Q
West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 4 End

When a king is played on your right, it is quite a temptation to put the ace on it. Killing a king is the prime purpose of an ace—or so the old whist adage goes. There are times, however, when this temptation must be resisted. Today’s hand is a good example.

Mrs. Keen used the rule of eleven to guide her into the right defensive play. The opening lead was the seven of spades. Anxious to f-nesse hearts as soon as posible, Mr. Abel tried to win with the king in dummy. Now put yourself in Mrs. Keen’s place and figure out the right play as she did, without looking at the South and West hands.

“Fourth highest?” 

Easley Blackwood
Easley Blackwood

Is Mr. Meek’s lead a “fourth highest?” Well, let’s use the rule of eleven. He led the seven spot. Seven from 11 leaves four, which means there are four spades higher than the seven outside of Mr. Meek’s hand. But you can see five spades higher than the seven in the East hand and dummy. So the opening lead cannot be a fourth best.

Is it a singleton? If so, then Mr. Abel has five spades and with that many of the top suit he surely would have bid spades instead of merely bidding and rebidding hearts. Mrs. Keen deduced, as you undoubtedly did, that the seven of spades was the top of a worthless two or three card holding. She hoped for the doubleton holding. She also hoped Mr. Meek could gain the lead before all of his trumps were extracted.

Plays Low

So at trick one she did not play the ace of spades. She played the nine to try to encourage her partner to lead the suit again, if he got in. At trick two Mr. Abel finessed the queen of hearts. Mr. Meek won with the king and returned the trey of spade’s. Having seen the deuce fall from the closed hand on the first trick, Mrs. Keen knew this was her partner’s lowest, and therefore last spade.

She won with the ace and led back a spade. Mr. Meek ruffing. The ace of clubs was then cashed for the setting trick. Note that if Mrs. Keen had played the ace of spades at trick one, Mr. Meek would not have had the opportunity of ruffing a third round of the suit. After he won with the king of hearts he would have no way to reach his partner’s hand.