Options

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

1. Transfer to spades
2. Roman Key Card Blackwood
3. 0 or 3 key cards

After opening 2NT (20-21), you quickly find yourself in what appears to be a good contract at the six level. West kicks off the defensive effort with a low trump. Do you like your chances to bring this contract home?

Solution

After the trump lead, when dummy appeared, declarer counted 11 top tricks. If trumps were 2-2, Declarer saw that he could make certain of a 12th trick on an elimination play: draw trumps, cash the hearts and play a diamond to the queen. If West won the trick, he would be endplayed. Declarer took the first trick in hand with the ♠9 and cashed the ♠J. Alas, trumps proved to be 3-1, West having the length. The elimination plan had to be abandoned.

Declarer drew the last trump and was about to play on diamonds when a thought struck him: It would cost nothing to take the heart winners first. Backing his judgment, declarer cashed the A, Q and K, then led the 9 to the queen. West won with the king and had only minor-suit cards remaining. It was clear to West that declarer had the ♣Q, so West exited with the J, hoping his partner would produce the 10. Declarer won with the A and threw a club on his good 10: He had six trumps, three hearts, two diamonds and a club to make his contract. Notice that if declarer hadn’t cashed the heart winners, the contract would have failed because West would then have had a safe exit in hearts. If West had started with more than three hearts, declarer could have ruffed in dummy when West continued that suit, then cashed the A and ruffed the 3. If the J was still outstanding, declarer would have fallen back on the club finesse to make the contract. The full deal:

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