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Mittelhand Hinterhand plays in clubs, having bid up to 40 and looked at the skat. J: -- V M H V M C: Q Trick 1 DK DA CA S: 10 Q 8 Trick 2 C7 CK CQ H: A K 7 Trick 3 CJ D7 C7 D: A 8 7 Trick 4 HQ HA H9 Trick 5 D8 S9 D10
My thought processes were as follows. On trick 1, for me it is automatic to play the ace of diamonds. If I play low and declarer has no diamonds he will throw a loser for only 4 points and we will still have the lead in the wrong place. If he has a diamond then I have wasted a chance to make my ace and take the lead.
One trick 2 I have no choice but to follow with my single trump, leaving partner on lead again.
Partner's lead of the jack of clubs to trick 3 makes it clear that he has the top three jacks. Hinterhand should be without 3 to justify his bid, and no doubt Vorhand is hoping that I have a second trump, in which case he can draw all the trumps. So declarer started with 6 trumps and no diamonds, and must have four cards in hearts and spades. Therefore it is important for me to preserve my holdings in those suits. If necessary I will be able to save my ace and ten later on partner's other jacks. So I throw a diamond.
I don't really know why I played the ace of hearts. Playing the king seems to be safer, provided the declarer has not kept a singleton 10.
At trick 5 I return my partner's lead - not only on general principles, but because it is likely that he led from 10 x x, especially since from his bidding he seemd to be planning to play diamonds with three, on this lead declarer either has to let the 10 win or trump a worthless trick, leaving himself with just two small trumps against my partner's two jacks.
Where did we go wrong? Here is the full deal.
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Vorhand Mittlehand Hinterhand Skat J: C S H J: -- J: D H10, H9 C: K C: Q C: A 10 9 8 7 S: 7 S: 10 Q 8 S: A K 9 Hinterhand bids to 40 H: Q 8 H: A K 7 H: -- takes the skat and plays clubs D: 10 K 9 D: A 8 7 D: Q
But rather to my dismay, it turns out that as the cards lie, my first mistake was the play I considered obvious - the ace of diamonds in the first trick. On this deal I can play low and let the declarer throw losers and it actually doesn't help him. Can ducking the king of diamonds really be correct? I can't bring myself to doubt that, as a general rule, one should overtake the king with the ace in a situation like this, either forcing the declarer to trump or putting him in the middle of the next trick. Maybe on this deal I needed to think right from the start about the likelihood that my partner had the top three jacks, and that therefore I should be looking to save my ten and both my aces?