Spot the Danger

Dlr: South ♠ Q 10 5 3
Vul: Both 7 4
A 10 7 6 4
♣ 9 4
♠ K 4 2
A K 3
Q J 8 2
♣ A K 6
West North East South
2NT (1)
Pass 3♣ Pass 3
Pass 3NT All Pass

(1) 20-22

West leads the 5 against your notrump game. East plays the 10. What is your plan for taking nine tricks?

Solution

This deal was played in a teams match with identical, simple-Stayman auctions at each table. Both West players led a fourth-highest 5. At the first table, declarer ducked East’s 10.

On the bidding and play to the first trick, East placed West with the Q and consequently saw that there was no future in continuing hearts. Instead, he shifted to the ♣Q.

Declarer won in hand with the ♣K and played a spade to the queen. East won with the ace and continued with the ♣J to declarer’s ace. Next, declarer ran the Q. East won the Q and cashed two club tricks to defeat the contract.

At the other table, declarer saw the danger of a club shift if he allowed East to hold the first trick, so he took the 10 with his king. At trick two, he led the ♠K. East could do no better than to win the trick with the ace and continue with the J, hoping that his partner had a six-card suit.

When declarer played low on the J, West overtook with the Q to shift to a spade. He knew from the auction that his partner had at least four spades.

Declarer rose with dummy’s ♠Q to limit the defense to at most two tricks in the suit, crossed to hand with the ♣K and ran the Q diamonds to East’s king. East saw that cashing the ♠J would give declarer an overtrick, so he exited with the ♣Q. Declarer took this with the ace and claimed his contract: he had made one spade, two hearts, four diamonds and two clubs. The full deal:

Dlr: South ♠ Q 10 5 3
Vul: Both 7 4
A 10 7 6 4
♣ 9 4
♠ 8 6 ♠ A J 9 7
Q 9 8 5 2 J 10 6
5 3 K 9
♣ 7 5 3 2 ♣ Q J 10 8
♠ K 4 2
A K 3
Q J 8 2
♣ A K 6
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