The safe play

Both vulnerable, North deals

Modern players happily open the bidding on balanced 12-points hands and force to game as responder with a balanced 12-point hand of their own.

The defenders frequently have a good chance to defeat them, but the way to do it is sometimes not obvious. The overbidders often rule the day, so they keep on bidding. Who can blame them?

Consider today’s deal. North-South bashed to game with 12 opposite 12, with neither a five-card suit nor a singleton between them. West’s opening king of spades lead held the trick and he had to consider his next move. A diamond shift would have defeated the contract, but that shift looked risky to West. He chose the “safe” continuation of the queen of spades. South grabbed this with his ace, cashed the ace of hearts, and led a low heart to the queen and king. The jack of hearts drew the last enemy trump.

Declarer led a club to his ace and ruffed his last spade in dummy. The king of clubs and another club put East on play with nothing left in his hand but diamonds.

East was forced to give dummy the king of diamonds for declarer’s tenth trick. Nicely played, but the defence missed their chance. Would you have found it?

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