Writers’ Weekly 52 | Santa Claus is coming to town

During the coming holidays we all celebrate Christmas and enjoy spending time with friends and family. Many of us listen to the classic Christmas songs and sing along when the most familiar songs sounds on the radio.

I have strong suspicions that a Christmas song might have been the inspiration to this defense.

6 spades seemed like the spot you’d like to be. The combination of elimination and endplay to solve hearts for just looking 1 trick gives you good odds for making the contract.  

West lead a trump won in hand. Ace of clubs, a club ruffed in dummy and another trump to hand show the 2-2 trump split EW. Another club ruff followed, east discarding a diamond.

To try find the count you play ace-king of diamonds, west follows with the 5 and Q.

By now you have a good view of the distribution. West has 2-2-2-7 or 2-1-3-7. What is the best line to play from here?

 If west holds singleton hearts the best play must be a low heart hoping he have the king, jack or 9. By this you can enter dummy ruffing a diamond, then finesse east for the missing high card in hearts.

Declarer tried to combine his chances when playing a low heart from hand, west contributed the nine, ten and jack.

Next game a heart from east, preventing you to get the exact count as you would have done if he played a diamond.

Your choice, top or finesse?

As you probably already have notices, the story has an edge to it. The simple question you always should ask yourself when considering different layouts of the cards. Would the bid and play have been the same, or is there a chance that something would have changed?

At this hand it is pretty sure that west would have led a heart holding the singleton 9. I can’t answer for all of you, but most of my friends (including myself) would lead a singleton to establish a possible ruff.

By this you can be sure west either has doubleton hearts or a singleton honor. The correct play should be a low heart from hand, when either the king or jack appears you are home. When the nine comes up you must guess to put up the queen or the ten. And the next hearts you must guess if west has played the nine for 9x or H9.

As you might have guessed declarer played low on the second hearts, the contract went Down, West won the king of hearts as the cards looked like this:

West was a clever defender. He could read the position and knew south had the ace. The only chance was to find his partner holding exactly J x x.

A beautiful defense and a real Christmas gift to his partner bringing in some hard cash IMPs. 0