Mike’s Advice


Dlr: South ♠ 10 9 8
Vul: N-S 8 7 6 2
Q J 10 9
♣ 7 3
♠ A Q 6 ♠ 7
A K J 10 3 Q 9 4
8 3 K 7 2
♣ Q J 2 ♣ 10 9 8 6 5 4
♠ K J 5 4 3 2
A 6 5 4
♣ A K
West North East South
Pass Pass 1♠
2 Pass 3 3♠
4 4♠ Pass Pass
Dbl All Pass

One of the things that I recommend you do after a session of bridge is discuss hands. One of the best tools you have is the hand records, if they are available. If you have them, you can often find a gem that would be lost otherwise.

South played in 4♠X on the auction above and West led the two top hearts, South ruffing with the two. South felt that his best line was to get to dummy with a spade in order to take the diamond finesse. Thinking there was a chance that one of the defenders would have a singleton ♠Q, he led the king. West permitted the king to win and South continued spades. West won and switched to the ♣Q. This defense was sufficient to set 4♠ because South could not get to dummy to take the diamond finesse.

You can see that leading the king (or jack) of spades does not work. The defenders have a simple answer to these plays. Do you see a play that does work? Keep in mind that West doubled 4♠ which is a hint that he has spade tricks. The ♠A Q x in the West hand is possible.

Let’s say you ruff the second heart lead with the ♠2 and lead the ♠3 toward dummy’s ♠10 9 8. West does not want you to get to dummy so he takes his queen. He leads another heart, which you ruff.

What now?

Let’s say you ruff the third heart with the ♠4. If you lead a spade honor, the defense lets you have the trick, again shutting you out of getting to dummy. Let’s say you lead the little spade. Your spades at this point are K-J-5. If you lead the five instead of an honor, West wins and once again you can not get to dummy.

There is an answer that does not come to mind immediately, but which will occur to you some day as a result of seeing this hand here. Here is the solution. When you ruff those heart leads in your hand, ruff the second one with a spade honor. This allows you to retain two little spades, ensuring that you can get to dummy sooner or later.

Of course, when you finally draw trump, ending in dummy, you are out of trumps and that means that the diamond finesse better be on. If it is, you make 4♠. If it is off, West gets his diamond and he gets another heart too.

Hands like this are annoying for another reason. It may turn out that West has the singleton K in which case all of your good work comes to naught. It may turn out that you could have forced your way to dummy with a diamond in order to finesse East out of the ♠Q. Many hands offer various lines and the winning line is not known until the hand is over. Still, the line shown is a good line of play that deserves consideration. If you agree, you have to see the need to unblock the spade honors along the way.

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