From 29th November, 2006, Board 26
Themes Reading the Opening Lead
Blocking & Unblocking
Difficulty * * *
Dlr West Both Vul Hands Rotated for
West leads Heart Three. Plan the play.
You must knock out the A♣ in order to come to 9 tricks, and provided that the opponents donít grab 3 Hearts when in with the A♣, youíll have a chance for a 10th trick if the Diamonds are 3-3. What is your play at Trick One?
If Hearts are 5-1, it doesnít matter whether or not we duck the first round of Hearts, in that case if the A♣ is with the long Hearts we are down, otherwise weíll make 9 or 10 tricks.
If Hearts are 3-3, we can make 10 tricks by ducking a couple of rounds of Hearts, and wonít need 3-3 Diamonds.
But it seems more likely that West has led from a 4-card suit, and that is the case we should focus on. One possibility is to duck a Heart, win the second round, and then play on Clubs Ö if the A♣ is with the Hearts it will be 9 tricks, otherwise there will 9 or 10 depending on the Diamonds. The alternative is to jump up with the Ace at Trick One, hoping that the enemy Heart suit will block. We are missing ♥KQJT, and for the suit to block we will need Eastís doubleton to contain two of them, so the question becomes ďFrom which of these Heart holdings is West more likely to lead?Ē:
If West has led from one of the left-column holdings, we want to rise with the Ace and block the suit. If West has led from one of the right-column holdings, we need to duck the first round of the suit. Which is more likely? Itís normal with those right-column holdings to lead an honor, but, when the suit has been bid itís sometimes not a bad idea to lead low.
Yes, the winner was to play the A♥ at Trick One, blocking the suit and eventually scoring 10 tricks. Was it obviously the winning play? Not really, but it is the play more likely to succeed, we think. Leading low from, say, KQJ3, is quite dangerous and also not something that would occur to many players.
Keys to Success
- Taking the trouble to figure out what holdings West might have led from.
- Deducing that the best chance of success was to play the A♥ at Trick One, blocking the suit.
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