Even if you do not play in duplicates, you will benefit from joining the American Contract Bridge League. Apart from its website having lots of teaching material, you will receive the monthly “Bulletin,” which is edited by Paul Linxwiler. This contains articles aimed at all levels of player.
Today’s deal is one of the monthly challenges. Look at only the North-South hands. You are in three no-trump. West leads a fourth-highest spade four. East takes the trick with his king and returns the spade jack. What would you do?
The bidding followed a predictable path. North was nervous about spades but knew that it was so unlikely five of a minor would make and three no-trump go down.
Should you cover the spade jack with your queen?
Things look grim, but you have a genuine chance to make the contract if East started with the spade K-J-10. West takes your queen with the ace and returns the suit to his partner’s 10, but West does not have a fast entry card. Suppose East shifts to low heart. Win with your ace and play a club to the nine. East takes that trick and tries another heart, but you win with the king and take a second club finesse. When that works and the king drops under the ace, you can claim 10 tricks: two hearts, five diamonds and three clubs.
Did you wonder if East had the spade king-jack-doubleton?
That cannot be the case if West led an honest fourth-highest spade four. Given that you hold the three, West can have at most a five-card suit.