Accept the Challenge

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

1. At least 5-5 in hearts and diamonds

You probably didn’t expect to be in slam after your light opener, but here you are. Your partner made two penalty-oriented doubles, but you didn’t like your void in hearts, so you bid 3♠ and quickly found yourself in a 12-trick contract. You get the lead of the K, which you win in dummy. Now what?

Solution

As usual, declarer could count 11 tricks against any distribution and 12 if the trumps were an unlikely three-two. After winning the first trick with dummy’s A, declarer played the king and ace of trumps, getting the bad news that East had a trick in the suit. Declarer ruffed a diamond then cashed the ♣K. The ♣Q was overtaken with the ace. When West discarded a diamond, declarer paused to think.

It was clear from the auction that East had longer hearts than diamonds; otherwise he would have bid 3 instead of 3. Declarer surmised that West began with 1=5=6=1 shape and East with 4=3=2=4 distribution. So, declarer cashed the queen of trumps and played two more rounds of clubs, reducing everyone to four cards. Declarer now played his last club. East threw a heart because he saw that there was no point in ruffing. If he did ruff, he would have had to lead a heart, allowing declarer to take the last three tricks with two hearts and a trump.

However, the heart discard served only to delay his fate because for declarer now led a trump, throwing dummy’s remaining low heart. East got his trump trick but dummy’s A and Q had to take the last two tricks.

Of course, if West had followed to the second club, he would have been marked with 1=5=5=2 shape, so a second diamond could then have been ruffed safely in dummy. The A would have taken care of declarer’s last diamond and all declarer would have lost would have been a trump trick. The full deal:

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