Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

You don’t believe in leaving any prisoners. In any case, the opening lead is the ♠6, East discarding a discouraging club. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
West
Vul:
None
North
♠ K J 8 7 5
J 7 6 3 2
K
♣ 10 4
West
♠ Q 10 9 6 4 3
Q 5 4
9 3
♣ A 9
East
♠ —
K 10 9 8
J 6 4 2
♣ K 8 7 6 2
South
♠ A 2
A
A Q 10 8 7 5
♣ Q J 5 3

Technically, the correct line is to win the ♠A and play the A Q 10 at tricks two, three and four. This line works whenever diamonds break
3–3 or the J or 9 appear under the A Q. This line logs in at almost 55%. You score five diamonds, three spades (marked finesse) plus the A. Alternative lines require a defensive error(s) if the hearts are 4–3 or in some cases when they are 5–2.

For example, you could win the opening lead cheaply in dummy and lead the ♣10. If the opponents win and switch to a diamond, you can lead a second club. If you are allowed to win this trick, you are home. You can play the A Q and a diamond, scoring five diamonds, two spades, a heart and a club. However, if you lose a second club and a heart comesback, your chances of making this contract are slim. The same applies if you win the ♠A and lead a club. If they shift to a heart early before the K has been played, you are in the twilight zone — you could go down when diamonds are 3–3!

Of course, it helps to know the skill level of your opponents on deals like this. When playing against strong opponents, the ♠A followed by the A is best.

Thanks to Jeff Lehman of Newton MA for this one.

2.IMPs

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

West leads the Q (standard). East plays the 7. West has one spade. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
West
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ A K J 7 5
A
A J 7 4
♣ A 5 4
West
♠ 8
Q J 10 9 6 2
8 3
♣ K J 10 6
East
♠ 6 4 2
K 7 4 3
10 9 6 2
♣ 9 7
South
♠ Q 10 9 3
8 5
K Q 5
♣ Q 8 3 2

As West is a heavy favorite to hold the ♣K for his first-seat 2 bid at unfavorable vulnerability (the Q denied the king), strip the hand before attacking the club suit.

After drawing trumps and ruffing a heart (leaving a higher trump in dummy), play four rounds of diamonds, discarding a club, reducing to this position:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ J
♣ A 5 4
South
♠ 10
♣ Q 8 3

Once you get a count on diamonds, you have a count on the entire hand. If West started with four diamonds, play West for ♣K x: Play the ♣A and a club to the queen. Even if West
has the expected K–x, he has to give you a ruff and a sluff upon winning the trick. And if East has the ♣K, the ♣Q will win the trick. If West started with three diamonds, he is down to three clubs and a heart. You have to hope that those three clubs are the K–J–10, and duck a club into West. If West started with the K–J–9, East can defeat the slam by inserting the ♣10.

The most interesting ending occurs when West started with two diamonds and four clubs. Unless there is a defensive error (or East has ♣J 10 doubleton, in which case you can play the ♣A and a club, ducking the second round), you need to find West with the ♣K J 10 x. Assuming K–J–10–x, West has to reduce to three clubs and a heart or four clubs. If West discards a low club, reducing to the K–J–10, duck a club into West.

If West discards the ♣10 (or ♣J), reducing to K–J–x, lead a low club from dummy and cover whatever East plays. If East plays the 9 from 9–x, cover with the queen. West, after
winning the king, will have to lead a club from the J–x (or give you a ruff and a sluff) allowing the ♣8 to take the contract-fulfilling trick. If East plays low, insert the ♣8, endplaying West after he wins the ♣J.

If West discards a heart, reducing to the ♣K J 10 x, while East remains with ♣9 x, play your last spade, forcing a club discard from West. If West discards a low club, duck a club into West’s K–J–10. If West discards a club honor, lead a low club and cover whatever club East plays. Don’t look now, but you have just executed a one-suited squeeze.

Thanks to Tim Bourke of Australia for this one.