Source: IBPA Column Service Jun 2018

Dealer North. Both Vul

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

Both South players in a team game reached a fair six hearts. Both received the lead of the nine of diamonds, suggesting that the diamonds were at least 7-2 since, with three diamonds, West would have led his lowest card. The first declarer was a good, if somewhat unimaginative, player.

Tim Bourke
Tim Bourke

After winning the first trick with the ace of diamonds, he cashed the ace of trumps and led a second one. When East threw a diamond, declarer had to concede two trump tricks to West, finishing down one.

The other declarer was both more experienced and a student of the odds. After winning the first trick with the ace of diamonds, he crossed to hand with a spade to the ace and led the jack of trumps, running it when West followed with a low card.

After playing a low trump to dummy’s ace, declarer came back to hand with the ace of clubs and cashed the king of trumps, claiming twelve tricks after conceding a trump to West’s queen. What are the odds, given the diamonds are breaking 7-2 and there is no defensive ruff?

The first declarer succeeds when trumps are 3-2 (about 58%) and also when East has a singleton ten or queen, about a 70% chance. The second declarer makes his contract when trumps are 3-2 or when West has four trumps including the queen, about an 83% chance.