By Eddie Kantar

(From NABC Nov 2007 San Francisco(4))



Dlr: West


Vul: E-W



♠ K 4 2

7 5

9 8 7 5 4

♣ K 9 3     









1 Spade


2 Sepade


4 Spade

All Pass














J 10 4 3

A J 6 2

Q J 10 5



♠ Q 8 5             

A 9 6 2

Q 10 3

♣ 7 6 4


Opening Lead = ♣Q



♠ A J 10 9 7 3

K Q 8


♣ A 8 2



Bidding commentary: West has a "classic" passed-hand takeout double of 1♠- 9-11 highcard points with spade shortness. North's raise is clear. East is not strong enough to bid 3. With both opponents bidding spades, East should discount the offensive value of the Q. In reality, East has a 6-point hand.


Play commentary:  South has potentially four losers, one in each suit. However, if East has the A, and South leads hearts twice from dummy, South can set up a heart winner for a club discard and then ruff a club in dummy. That's the plan. One needs a plan. The ♣K wins trick one and a heart is led to the king (not the queen, the king!) at trick two.

When leading up to equals, it is far more deceptive to play the higher equal. Assuming the king wins, declarer enters dummy with the K and leads a second heart. This time East wins and exits a club to declarer's ace. Declarer cashes the Q, discarding a club from dummy, ruffs a club and leads a spade. With nine spades between the two hands missing the queen, and no contrary information, the percentage play is the K, then the ace. The bidding, however, provides contrary information. West is marked with spade shortness considering the passed-hand takeout double. The J should be inserted. When leading up to the closed hand that has a number of equals, play the higher or highest equal. For example, when leading from weakness in dummy up to the A-Q-J-10 in your hand, finesse the queen, not the 10. Otherwise, you give away too much information. With nine cards in a suit (spades) missing the queen, the percentage play is the ace-king unless the bidding or the count of the other suits tell you otherwise.