Mt. Vernon Register-News

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July 11, 2014

One spade stopper or two, declarer?

George Whitefield, a renowned preacher in England and the American colonies who died in 1770, said, “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”

In yesterday’s deal, I mentioned the Rule of Seven, which a declarer in a no-trump contract might find useful. If he has one top-trick stopper (typically the ace, but maybe the king if third hand takes the first trick with the ace), he adds together the number of cards in the suit led that are in the dummy and his hand. He subtracts the total from seven and holds up for that number of rounds.

Does that apply to this deal? South is in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest spade and East puts up the queen.

Declarer starts with seven top tricks: one spade, one heart, four diamonds and one club. The other two winners can come from clubs. But if the club finesse is losing, is South in any danger?

In yesterday’s deal, the club finesse was into the East hand. If South had won the first trick with his spade ace, East would have won with his club king and returned a spade through South’s jack-nine, giving West four tricks in the suit for down one.

Here, though, the finesse is into the West hand. South has two spade stoppers if he takes the first trick, crosses to dummy with a diamond, and runs the club 10. Yes, West wins that trick, but he cannot cash out the spades.

If South ducks trick one, though, East can lead his remaining spade, establishing West’s suit while West has the club king as an entry.

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