From “Take All Your Chances” by Eddie Kantar

How should you attack these hands? If you are declaring a notrump contract, count your sure tricks. If you don’t have enough to make the contract (you won’t!) look for some way to develop that missing trick or tricks. If you see at least two lines of play to secure those extra tricks, stay alive! Give yourself a chance to take both lines. At trump contracts counting losers and sure tricks is the way to go. If the total doesn’t come to 13, count your cards.

There are many hands where more than one line of play exists to make your contract. If you select the best percentage line, your chance of making the hand increases, but if you don’t … But why take the worst of it? The idea is to take the line of play, which if it doesn’t work, still allows you to take the other line, and there ever may even be a third line! This is called “staying alive”; in other words, avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket!

Unfortunately, but realistically, there will be hands where you have to decide immediately between several lines of play. The opponents have forced your hand and there is no time to try one line and then switch to another if the first doesn’t work. Now it helps to know a bit about percentages or the odds.

The bidding will be given and explained. Use the bidding as a guide in the play.

Assume IMP scoring. Play to make and do not worry about overtricks or undertricks.

West North East South
1♣
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Pass

You open 1♣ and rebid 1NT over partner’s 1 response. Partner boosts you to 3NT and the opening lead is the ♠2. Plan the play.

With spades apparently 4–4, the safe line with eight top tricks is to develop a ninth in diamonds, not clubs. Why diamonds?

Given a normal lie of cards you will lose three diamonds and a spade. If you try for two club tricks instead, you must find the ♣K with East (50%). Nor can you try for 3–3 clubs because you will have to give up the lead twice and the opponents can take three diamond tricks.

Win the ♠K in dummy and lead a low diamond to the 10 and continue playing diamonds each time you are in. Assuming spades are 4–4, you will lose three diamonds and one spade, not having to rely on a miracle club holding.

Full Deal