Out in Left Field

“If at first you don’t succeed, try playing left field” — graffiti

Dlr: South ♠ 4 3 2
Vul: N-S A 3
A 9 3
♣ K 7 4 3 2
♠ J 9 8 ♠ Q 10 7
Q 10 8 7 6 J 5 4 2
J K 7 6 4 2
♣ Q 10 9 6 ♣ 8
♠ A K 6 5
K 9
Q 10 8 5
♣ A J 5
South West North East
1NT Pass 3NT All Pass

Opening lead — 7
At today’s 3NT, South’s first move was to take the A and finesse with his ♣J. He didn’t succeed. West won and led another heart.
South won and cashed the ♣A, and when East discarded, it was too late for South to try out at another position. He led a diamond to the ace, hoping for a miracle, but the defense got a diamond, a club and three hearts.

Better Play

South was out in left field. He would have been safe for nine or more tricks if the clubs came in but could do better. South can win the first heart with the king, lead a club to the king and return a club. If East followed, South would finesse with the jack. He would be sure of at least four club tricks and nine in all.
When East discards on the second club, South has a second chance. He starts the diamonds, hoping for three diamonds and two tricks in every other suit. As the cards lie, he gets home easily.

Daily Question

You hold:
♠ 4 3 2
A 3
A 9 3
♣K 7 4 3 2
The dealer, at your left, opens 1. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

You must not settle for a response of 2♣, which would show no strength, or 1NT, which would show at most nine points. You must invite game. A bid of 2NT or a jump to 3♣ is acceptable. If, not unreasonably, you judge to force to game, start with a cue bid of 2.