The endplay

Tarot at 4 players. You are declarer (garde), on lead and holding at 4 cards of the end:

SpadeC
DiamondK-10-2

Your hand was made of 10 trumps with 4 spades and 4 diamonds. You played some rounds of trumps (God knows why!) while the defense found your voids quickly and insisted, so that you are now out of trump. Your contract is in danger because your cavalier of Spade is not established and 9 points are missing to reach 41. It's the defender placed before you who locks your spades (he holds D-10). Do you have any idea to finish superbly or are you ready to go down with dignity by cashing the KDiamond? Before answering, you can take note of the information which was available when this deal was played:

Demenagement Constantineau

In fact, we have only 3 possibilities of play with our cards. Let us examine them:

  1. Cash the king of diamond. That's playable for 2 reasons: first, to hope to capture a stiff queen (singleton). But this possibility is unlikely since the 2 players behind you had an oppurtunity to save it on the first diamond lead. As for the defender placed before you, it is unlikely that he made a lead under a doubleton queen, which is one of the most unattractive lead.

    Second reason: we can be afraid, by playing another card than the king of diamond, to never be able to cash it later. This catastrophe is possible with the lead of the small diamond, since it is the only card which can let any player to take the lead (defense could let the lead to the player which will "close" you with 3 cards in your voids).

    To summarize, cashing the Kdiamond is a play that does nothing except to limit the loss. To reach 41 points, we need to make 2 tricks with our cards since we do not believe to capture a singleton queen with the king. Let us eliminate this play.

  2. Play the 10 or the small diamond . We saw that it was dangerous to play the small diamond. As for the 10, it is the only card which can make the missing trick. The idea to lose this 10 to a possible (although improbable) singleton queen horrifies us deeply. 100% losing play. Eliminated !

  3. Play the CSpade. This play immediately concedes 2 spade tricks to WEST but allows us to preserve our King-10 fork in k. WEST takes our Cavalier with the queen, cashes its 10 of spade then plays a small Diamond on which we try the finesse with the 10... which holds the trick! Happy end at the last trick when our king finds his lady (we must admit that she did everything to avoid this forced marriage). Plausible scenario? It is time to re-examine information we have.

Demenagement Constantineau

The player on the right definitely does not have the queen of Diamond, since he saved first the cavalier then the jack. We can't imagine why he would have passed the cavalier on the first Diamond lead with with Q-C-J in hand (unless it's a joker or an inattentive). For the the player in front, we remember he played a small Diamond very quickly on the first lead. It's not completely reliable, but an average player will wonder whether he must retain his queen or "dive", at the risk to set up some cards in declarer's hand. This information makes us to believe that WEST is the number 1 suspect to hold the QDiamond. This is why we choose the play of the CSpade to give him the lead and to force him to play under its queen of Diamond towards our King-10 fork.

Anyway, we are in a classic case of assumption. We imagined the only configuration of cards which enables us to win the contract and we will play accordingly (wishfull thinking)

Perhaps you noticed that WEST has a partial defense against the play we imagined. He can indeed decide to let to us make the trick with the CSpade in order to save its QDiamond. Such as are the cards, it's the better play he can make (with the condition that the other defenders do not load some points on the trick), even if it does not prevent the contract from being made. The trick of the CSpade (4 points) + the trick of the KDiamond (6 points) = 10 points. Whereas by taking the cavalier of spade, WEST must concede the last 2 tricks in diamonds: the trick of the 10 (2 points) + the trick with K-Q (9 points) for a total of 11 points. It thus saves a point. However, it's not easy for this defender to let make this CSpade. He must wonder why his opponent plays like this and risks to be locked without making its KDiamond.

Distribution of the 4 hands
  NORTH  
  Tarot -
Sp -
He -
Di 6-5-1
Cl Q
 
West   EAST
Tarot -
Sp Q-10
He -
Di Q-4
Cl -
  Tarot -
Sp -
He Q-5-2
Di 9
Cl -
  SOUTH  
  Tarot -
Sp C
He -
Di K-10-3
Cl -
 

Score, depending on which card is played:

Updated: 07/02/2016

Demenagement Constantineau
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