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Subj:     Bridge Challenge #11 (S516c)
          From Part III - "Problem Hands", page 196

From the book Winning Declarer Play  
              by Dorothy Truscott  
              Published in 1969 by Harper and Row
 
North
S - K
H - 6 5 3
D - J 9 2
C - 8 7 6 4 3 2

South
S - A 8 4 3
H - A K 9
D - A Q 10 4
C - A J

South dealer.  Both Vulnerable

The bidding:     SOUTH     WEST     NORTH     EAST
                 2 NT      Pass     3 NT      Pass
                 Pass      Pass

Opening lead: Spade queen

West leads the spade queen, and the king wins the first trick.  Which card should you lead from dummy at trick two, and why?

Answer: You have nine tricks, provided the diamond king is on side.  Since dummy has no more entries, the time to finesse is now, and the right card to lead is the diamond nine.  This allows you to remain in the dummy for two subsequent finesses should they prove necessary.  Suppose the complete hand is this:
 
West
S - Q J 10 9 5
H - 8 7 4
D - 5 3
C - Q 10 9
Dummy
S - K
H - 6 5 3
D - J 9 2
C - 8 7 6 4 3 2

South
S - A 8 4 3
H - A K 9
D - A Q 10 4
C - A J

East
S - 7 6 2
H - Q J 10 2
D - K 8 7 6
C - K 5

Notice that it would be a mistake to start with the diamond jack.  This would hold the trick, and you'd next lead another diamond to the ten, which would also win.  But now there'd be no way to get back to dummy for a third finesse, and the contract would fail.  It would do no good to drop the ten under the jack on the first round.  In this case, when you continue with the nine, East will cover with the king, promoting his eight spot.

Look how easy life is if you start with the nine.  This wins, and you continue with the jack.  When East plays small, you can get under the jack with the ten, leaving yourself in dummy for that vital third finesse.

Some readers probably got the answer to the problem from the title, even if they failed to recognize the combination.  Among card players, the nine of diamonds has long been known as the "curse of Scotland, although the origin of the term is uncertain.

There's a legend that the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II, wrote the order for the massacre at the battle of Culloden (1746) on the back of a nine of diamonds.  This victory by "Butcher Cumberland," as he subsequently became known, destroyed the Scottish insurrection led by the young pretender, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and put an end to attempts of the Stuart family to regain the throne of England.  A monumental cairn and several green mounds can be seen today on the heath of Culloden where over a thousand of the slain lie buried.  And the nine of diamonds has been known ever since as the "curse of Scotland."
 

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This is one example from Dorthy Truscott's book "Winning Declarer Play." 
Buy the book, read it, and rereat it a dozen times.  I guarantee it will 
improve your bridge game.

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