Bridge: March 26, 2023
Unlucky Louie came to me in the club lounge with another tale of self-inflicted woe.
“A two-way guess for a missing queen is a 50-50 proposition, isn’t it?” Louie asked.
I nodded cautiously. An expert declarer will guess right at least 75 percent of the time. Clues or “table feel” will point his way.
“I’m in a slump,” Louie said. “I couldn’t locate a missing queen if I were armed with a search warrant. I’m going wrong every time.”
Louie made me look at one deal. He had been declarer at four hearts. West led the K-A and a third club, and luckily for Louie, his queen won the third trick.
“I forced out the ace of trumps,” Louie told me, “and West led a diamond. Dummy’s queen won, and I drew trumps, but I still had to guess the queen of spades. Naturally, I led a spade to dummy’s ten, playing the opening bidder for the queen … and East won. I would do better if I just finessed in the direction of City Hall every time.”
In resolving a queen-guess, a good declarer puts together all the information available. South knows West had three trumps and three or four clubs. He had six or seven cards in those suits, hence six or seven cards in diamonds and spades. But West opened one club with at most four, so he didn’t have a five-card suit elsewhere; his distribution was balanced.
Moreover, West has shown 14 points: A-K of clubs, ace of hearts, king of diamonds. If West held the queen of spades, what would his opening bid have been?
Louie should have played East for the queen.
S K 10 4
H J 10 6 5 2
D A Q
C 10 6 2
S 8 6 2
H A 7 4
D K 9 2
C A K 8 4
S Q 9 7 5
D J 10 8 7 5 4
C 9 7 5
S A J 3
H K Q 9 8 3
D 6 3
C Q J 3
West North East South
1 C Pass Pass 1 H
Pass 3 H Pass 4 H
Opening lead — C K
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