Bridge: June 9, 2024

“Are you superstitious?” a club player asked me.

“It’s bad luck to be superstitious,” I replied. “I guess I’m merely ‘stitious.’”

“I wondered if you have superstitions about guessing missing queens,” he said, “such as ‘the queen lies over the jack’ or ‘finesse in the direction of city hall.’”

Players may have idiosyncrasies about resolving a guess for a queen, but there will invariably be clues from the bidding and play. If no clues are evident, an expert declarer will delay his guess while he goes looking for information.

Against today’s four hearts, West led the deuce of clubs: five, ten, three. East shifted to a trump, and West took the ace and led another club. East won with the jack and tried to cash the ace, and declarer ruffed and drew trumps.

South was in no hurry to guess in diamonds. He took the K-A of spades and ruffed a spade, as West followed with the deuce, nine and jack. South then reflected that West probably had no more spades: With Q-J-9-2 or J-10-9-2, his opening lead would have been a spade honor, not a risky club from a broken suit. Moreover, West’s lead of the deuce of clubs suggested a four-card holding. So declarer placed West with 3-2-4-4 distribution — and the odds were four to two that he held any particular diamond, including the queen.

That wasn’t all. It appeared that West’s clubs were Q-9-x-x. If his diamond holding were, say, 9-8-7-3, he might have preferred to lead a passive diamond. So putting it all together, South judged to lead a diamond to dummy’s jack.

Making four.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable


S A 7 5

H 10 9 4 2

D K J 5

C K 7 5


S J 9 2

H A 6

D Q 9 7 3

C Q 9 4 2


S Q 10 8 4 3

H 7 3

D 8 6

C A J 10 8


S K 6

H K Q J 8 5

D A 10 4 2

C 6 3

South West North East
1 H Pass 3 H Pass
4 H All Pass
Opening lead — C 2

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