Mike’s Advice


michaelslawrence.com

A Play Hand — All About the Trump Suit

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6 3
Vul: None 8 7 2
A Q J 3
♣ Q 10 4
♠ A Q 10 9 5 4 2
K 6 3
K 7 4
♣ —
West North East South
1♠
Dbl 1NT Pass 4♠
All Pass

South was torn between 3♠ and 4♠ on his second bid. If North had a bunch of clubs and not much in the other suits, 4♠ might be down a lot. But you don’t get rich being pessimistic and South decided on bidding game. He actually had three things going in his favor. North rated to have a nice hand for 1NT since he did not have to bid. And, if there were any issues in the play, knowing where the high card points were would help. Further, even if dummy was not suitable, West would not necessarily have an easy time on defense.

So South played 4♠ with the ♣K lead. South ruffed and considered his play. He felt that West probably had the A so he did not want East to get in. One thought was to cash the ♠A, hoping for a singleton king with West. But South rejected that since it was against the odds. If East turned up with the king, he would now have a possible fast entry and a heart return would kill the contract.

So South went to dummy with the J in order to lead a spade. East played the eight. South has a lot to think about.

The traditional play is the queen. This maximizes your chance of taking seven spade tricks. The trouble with this play is that if East has all three spades, he may be able to get in soon enough to lead a heart through you.

The anti-percentage play is the ace, already noted as being way against the odds.

The final possible play is the 10 or nine. Why do this? If it loses to the king or jack, you will be able to draw trump with one more lead and can run the diamonds, using the little spade in dummy as a third round entry. That will be 10 sure tricks. The drawback to this play? There is one. If East has a singleton diamond, he may get a diamond ruff. But this happens only if East has two spades and one diamond. This feels unlikely.

Is it worth giving up a possible overtrick? I would guess yes. For starters, there is a modest chance that the ace or queen play will cause 4♠ to go down. Also, there is a fair chance that giving up a trick will be OK since it is such a good contract for you. Their side rates to be down only one or two in 5♣, which means that at some tables they may be defending against 4♠. And, getting to 4♠ is not always going to happen. I can imagine a few pairs missing the boat here. It happens.

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6 3
Vul: None 8 7 2
A Q J 3
♣ Q 10 4
♠ — ♠ K J 8
A J 9 4 Q 10 5
9 6 5 2 10 8
♣ A K J 9 2 ♣ 8 7 6 5 3
♠ A Q 10 9 5 4 2
K 6 3
K 7 4
♣ —

Here is the layout you are hoping for. When you finesse the 10, West shows out. Now you have to go to dummy again in diamonds in order to repeat the spade finesse. You can draw trump but all of this going back and forth will cost you a diamond trick. Actually, you may still get four diamond tricks because West will be squeezed on the run of the spades, but that is a topic for another day.