Photo by Peg Kaplan

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

Eddie Kantar
Eddie Kantar

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 king.

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 third-hand 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!

N. of the R.: In contract bridge, avoidance play is a play technique whereby declarer prevents a particular defender from winning the trick, so as to eschew a dangerous lead from that hand. The dangerous hand is usually the one who is able to finesse through declarer’s honors, to give a ruff to the partner or to cash one or more established winners. Avoidance play can be regarded as one type of safety play.