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
1NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

1NT–3NT gets you the opening lead of the 6, East playing the J. Plan the play.

You have eight top tricks and dare not let them in before you get nine. Win the A and test spades, a suit that allows you to stay alive if it doesn’t break 3–3. If it doesn’t, you still have eight tricks.

You are now reduced to either the club finesse or the diamond finesse. In other words, you have three chances. You have already taken one; what should your second chance be?

When missing a queen in two suits, a finesse possible in either suit, cash the ace-king of the longer suit (clubs) and if the queen doesn’t drop, take a finesse in the shorter suit (diamonds).