The Real Deal


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This deal comes from the Tucson AZ Regional, where I lost just about every match. I did find a lesson, however, in this deal. South was the dealer with both sides vulnerable, holding:

♠ K Q J 9 8 7 5
9
A 5 4
♣ 6 5

What do you like? Surely you wouldn’t pass, so it is just a question of how many spades to open. This hand is much too good for 2♠ or 3♠, so we can narrow it down to 1♠ or 4♠. I think that 1♠ is the mature action — it could lead to the most scientific auction. Many players would open 4♠, however, a stab at combining preemption with maybe
reaching the right contract.

Whatever your choice, let’s say that your side ends up in 6♠. The ♣K is led, and this is what you see:

♠ A 10
Q J 10 2
K J 9 2
♣ A J 2

♠ K Q J 9 8 7 5
9
A 5 4
♣ 6 5

How did we get so high? I’m not telling. What will you do on this lead of the ♣K?

If you duck, and West doesn’t find a heart shift, you’ll be in decent shape. That’s quite a chance to take. Let’s say you win the ♣A at trick one. Now what?unlikely. A much livelier possibility is that East started with the 10 singleton or doubleton. If you play the A, then low to the jack and collect the 10 from East, you are in dummy with no way back to your hand.

Let’s look at the full real deal:

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

If you play the A and lead to the J, you are down. The 10 falls, but you can’t get back to your hand to repeat the finesse.

Now, watch what happens if you start diamonds by leading low to the jack. You come off dummy with a diamond to the ace, and when the 10 falls, you are now in the right hand to finesse the 9 and make your contract. Surely, a singleton 10 or any doubleton 10 x with East is much more likely than a singleton Q with East. You don’t have to be a percentage guru to get this one right, but you do have to be careful and use logic — good traits for winning bridge.

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