Mike’s Advice


michaelslawrence.com

In the first hand, South plays in 3NT after this auction.

Dlr: West ♠ K J 4 2
Vul: None Q 10 9
A 7 2
♣ 6 4 2
♠ 7 6 5
A K 8
K 9 5
♣ A K Q 3
West North East South
Pass Pass 1♣ Dbl
Pass 2♠ Pass 3NT
All Pass

South doubled East’s third-seat 1♣ bid and then bid 3NT over North’s invitational 2♠ bid. South did not consider a slam since North was marked with a maximum of about 10 points.

West started with the ♣9. It looks like South will need a spade trick, and he decided to try for one by force rather than to try an endplay. The play at trick two was the ♠5, eight from West, jack from dummy, and the queen from East. So far, more or less predictable. East continued with the ♣J, won by South, as West followed suit. East is marked with only four clubs so there is no danger there.

At the next trick South continued spades by leading the six to West’s 10, the king, and East’s ace. Is this all bad news or what?

East continued with a club and declarer won, West showing out.

How do you measure South’s chances now?

He continued with his ♠7 and West discarded a heart. East won the ♠9, cashed his club, and returned the Q.

Can you make 3NT now? How?

The answer is embarrassingly simple. Go to dummy and cash the ♠4, dropping East’s three. Did you follow the spade spots or did you overlook something? No need to tell anyone. It’s between you and the ♠4.

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

A Defensive Hand

Some plays can be worked out at the table. Some can’t. How do you feel about this one?

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

For a change, I will show you all four hands. Here is what did happen. West led the ♠10 and East grabbed it. He did not say it, but he thought to himself that aces are meant to take kings. Having won the first trick, East now started to think. He returned a spade. South won and gave East a club trick. East set up his spades but when West got in with his ♣K, declarer had the rest. Did East really do anything wrong here?

East got too busy. The lead and the bidding marked South with the ♠QJ. East must let the ♠K win trick one. When in with the ♣A East must lead a small spade, giving South the second of his spade tricks. Now when West gets in with the ♣K he has a spade left to lead to East. East’s defense is predicated on West’s having the ♣K for the reason that 3NT is not likely to go down if South has it.

You can find reasons for East to do differently on defense, for instance winning the spade and leading a diamond. This might work on a different layout. What is important is that East see the possibility of ducking the first spade.

Looks like East should have spent more time thinking before playing to trick one, not after.