Middle Game Hand

To review, Lefty opened 1NT and Righty took the partnership to 4S. The card situation, with you sitting in front of dummy:

Declarer won the king of clubs, cashed the AK of hearts, and lead a club to the ace, which you trumped.

What do you know? In terms of card combinations, partner didn't cover the queen of clubs because declarer has the ace and king of clubs. Declarer didn't know you had a singleton club. But why is declarer playing the hand this way?

First, declarer is not playing off the AK of hearts just to ruff a heart in the dummy. The long spades are good. Instead, declarer probably has the Q of hearts and wants to pitch something from the dummy. On this hand, there aren't a lot of candidates. It has to be that declarer wants to pitch a diamond from dummy.

If declarer has the ace of diamonds, then he has to unblock the hearts, but there is no hurry on getting the pitch -- he can always play the queen of hearts after winning his ace of diamonds. Then he doesn't have to worry about the queen of hearts getting ruffed. Given that he has to have some worry about a club ruff, he would unblock hearts and then try to take out trump.

So this line of play suggests that declarer does not have the ace of diamonds -- declarer is in a hurry to pitch a diamond. Now, why did declarer come to his hand in clubs? If he had the ace of spades, he would surely come to his hand with the ace of spades, take his diamond pitch on the queen of hearts, then lead another trump.

So declarer probably does not have the ace of spades. The other possible reason for not crossing to hand in spades would be if declarer had AQ of spades and wanted to finesse at a later time, but on this hand you have the queen of spades.

So we are placing declarer with a hand like:


That's only 12 HCP. To make it up to 15, declarer has to have the Q of diamonds and one of the black jacks.

In terms of play, you didn't need to work out the trump situation, it was enough to place the ace of diamonds in partner's hand. You can lead a diamond to your partner's ace, get another club ruff, cash the king of diamonds, then see if declarer guesses the spades right or wrong (for either down two or down three).

The "danger" in leading a diamond is the fear that declarer has AQ. This costs a trick only when declarer does not have the queen of hearts, hence cannot pitch a diamond (and cannot pitch a diamond on any club winners.


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