CARD COMBOS & INFERENTIAL COUNT

Maritha Pottenger

You open 1NT and after a Stayman inquiry end up in 3NT with the 2 lead. (fourth best leads).

Dummy: QJ64 KQ94 J432 Q.

Your hand: A75 63 AQ96 AJ73.

You put in a high heart. RHO takes the A, thinks a bit and returns the 2. LHO takes the K; thinks a bit and returns the 4. RHO plays the 10 and you take the J.

At this point, you expect one heart trick (unless they set up Dummy's 9 for you); two clubs; two spades (by force) and two diamonds by force. However, you can only afford to lose two more tricks.

The diamond suit gives you a CHOICE of plays. You can play for King doubleton in RHO's hand; get to dummy, play diamond to Q, cash the A, hope the King falls and return to J on dummy. OR, you can play for K10x of diamonds in RHO's hand. In that case, you need to lead J from Dummy; when it is (presumably) covered by the K, you play A; return to dummy and finesse the 10 next time. [Note that you only have a choice because you own the 9—without that card, your only choice for four diamond tricks is Kx onside.]

Dummy doesn't have many entries. However, your best chance for THREE spade tricks is to find the K on your left. Also, considering the distribution, you know that LHO started with exactly four hearts (led the two). You know that clubs are 4-4-4-1 around the table (because RHO shifted to the 2 and LHO returned the 4—lowest outstanding—after winning the K).

Therefore, LHO's most likely shape is 3-4-2-4 OR 2-4-3-4. If the first distribution is the case, the second choice of diamond plays is favored. So, trick three, put a LOW spade on the table. (You want LHO to take the K right away if s/he has it and if LHO does have a doubleton K, will be hard to duck.) If LHO does duck, play the Q (which wins). Play the J, which fetches the K, and kill the King. Then play the A and a low spade. Now LHO must decide whether to play a heart or a club. If he plays a club, take your Ace.

Go over to the high heart and cash the good spade, discarding a club.

LHO is highly likely to keep both remaining hearts and the good club and discard a diamond. If you trust your count on the hand, finesse to your 10. You'll end up losing one spade, one heart and one club, making four.