June 9, 2023 – The Mercury News

This week’s deals have treated “avoidance” plays by declarer: preventing a “dangerous” defender from gaining the lead. To test yourself, cover the East-West cards. You’re declarer at five clubs. (I know, you and North would have reached 3NT, played by South.) West leads the queen of hearts.

The actual declarer took the ace of hearts and drew trumps. He cashed the king of hearts, ruffed dummy’s last heart and led the A-K and a third spade. East won and shifted to a diamond, and West took two diamonds. Down one.


South probably needs a 3-3 spade break so dummy’s fourth spade will provide a diamond discard, but South can’t afford to let East win a spade trick. South should let West’s queen of hearts win the first trick.

If West leads another heart, South wins, draws trumps and takes the second high heart for a spade discard. He cashes the A-K of spades, ruffs a spade and returns a trump to dummy to discard a diamond on the 13th spade.

Did you duck at Trick One?


You hold: S K 8 6 2 H A K 5 D 7 3 C A J 7 3. Your partner opens one spade, and you respond 2NT, a conventional forcing raise. Partner next bids three clubs. What do you say?

ANSWER: In conjunction with your conventional 2NT, opener’s three clubs shows a singleton there. The idea is to let you judge whether you have useful cards. Here, your ace of clubs is ideal (the K-Q would be “wasted”). Cue-bid three hearts. You will cue-bid the ace of clubs next.

West dealer

N-S vulnerable


S K 8 6 2

H A K 5

D 7 3

C A J 7 3


S 9 4 3

H Q J 10

D A Q J 8 5 2

C 6


S Q J 10

H 9 8 6 4 2

D 10 9 4

C 8 4


S A 7 5

H 7 3

D K 6

C K Q 10 9 5 2

West North East South
2 D Dbl Pass 3 D
Pass 3 S Pass 4 C
Pass 5 C All Pass
Opening lead — H Q

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