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Opening Lead: Five of spades
My sister, Nancy, passed away on December 19th. She was a lovely person and will be missed. Growing up in Ritzville, a farming community, she developed a love for animals and especially horses. She competed in horse shows riding her sorrel American Saddlebred mare, Tic’s Copper Penney. She married a school teacher and they had four children. His teaching took them to Montesano, Dayton and finally to Bellevue.
Our family played party bridge, but I was the only one who played duplicate. Once, when Nancy was visiting with her husband, I invited them to play in our club. In theory, they would be eaten alive by our serious competitors, but that was not the case. They won the event! This hand helped them.
The Bidding: Nancy opened the bidding with 1H and became declarer in 4H.
The Play: Rubber bridge players like to trump things. Nancy won the opening lead with the queen of spades and cashed the ace. She cashed the king of hearts and led a heart to the ace, distaining the finesse. She trumped a spade and eventually lost a spade, a heart, and a club. All the duplicate players took the finesse in hearts and went down in the process.
The Lesson: When the heart finesse loses, West shifts to a club and gets a club ruff. Declarer loses a spade at the end for down one. A club singleton with West is not likely, but equally fatal would be a third heart after West takes the queen of hearts. You then figure to lose two spades, a heart, and a club.
Tip: Do not play mechanically for the best play within a suit to avoid a loser when the layout of the two hands indicates a safer approach. When dummy has a shortage and few trumps, it is often a good idea to score a ruff or two in dummy before drawing all the trumps.