Test Your Play

1. IMPs. N-S vulnerable. North Deals.
♠ 9 6
J
A Q J 10 8 2
♣ Q 5 3 2

♠ A K J 8
K 9 8
7 3
♣ A K J 4

 

West North East South
3(1) Pass 6NT
All Pass

(1) Played as very constructive at this vulnerability. (How else can I get you to 6NT?)

West leads the ♣10. You win the ♣K and lead a diamond to the queen, both following, return to the ♣A, both following, and lead a second diamond to the jack. The good news
is that the jack holds, the bad new is that East discards a heart. Now what? I’ll give you this much: spades are 4–3 one way or the other.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
♠ 9 6
J
A Q J 10 8 2
♣ Q 5 3 2
♠ 7 5 3 ♠ Q 10 4 2
A 6 4 Q 10 7 5 3 2
K 9 6 4 5
♣ 10 9 8 ♣ 7 6
♠ A K J 8
K 9 8
7 3
♣ A K J 4

You are in big trouble. Not only do you need four spade tricks, but you need a heart trick as well! Start by running the ♠9. If it holds, lead a spade to the jack and then the ♠A K, discarding a diamond, and cash two more clubs ending in dummy. This is the position:

♠ —
J
A Q
♣ —
♠ — ♠ Q–
? ???
K 9
♣ — ♣ —
♠ —
K 9 8
♣ —

It seems you have reached the crossroads. If East has the A, you can cash the A and lead a heart. If West has the A, you can lead a heart and force a diamond return.

In actuality, leading a heart is far better than cashing the A. Unless East has specifically the A Q 10, leading a heart guarantees you two of the last three tricks.

If West’s heart is the ace, he must win and lead a diamond. If West’s heart is the queen and East plays low, West wins and once again must lead a diamond. If East steps up with the ace and
leads a heart, you will finesse the 9.

Finally, if West’s heart is the 10 and East plays low, the jack wins and the A is your 12th trick. If East covers with the Q, win the king and drive out the 10, taking your 12th trick with the 8.

P.S. If the ♠9 is covered at trick five, win the jack, cross to the ♣Q using your ♣J, repeat the spade finesse, cash the ♠A K and enter dummy with the ♣5 to
bring about the desired ending.

If East has Q–10–x–x‑x in spades, you would have to decide who to play for the A. If East has it, you can’t afford to cash a fourth spade.Instead, cash two clubs ending in dummy, then the A, pitching a heart, and finally a heart to the king. If you think West has the A, cash the fourth spade and reduce to the end position previously discussed.

Thanks to Scott Cardell, Pullman WA, for this one.

2. Matchpoints. None vulnerable. South deals.
♠ Q 6 4
6 3 2
J 8 2
♣ Q 4 3 2

♠ A K 7
A K Q J 9 4
A 6 4
♣ A

West North East South
2♣
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 4 Pass 6
All Pass

West leads the ♣J. East plays the 7. You win the ace and play the A K, East discarding a low diamond on the second heart. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
♠ Q 6 4
6 3 2
J 8 2
♣ Q 4 3 2
♠ J 3 2 ♠ 10 9 8 5
10 8 5 7
K Q 9 10 7 5 3
♣J 10 9 8 ♣ K 7 6 5
♠ A K 7
A K Q J 9 4
A 6 4
♣ A

Your best shot is to play West for both diamond honors with at most three spades. The idea is to arrive at this five‑card end position:

♠ Q
J 8 2
♣ Q
♠ — ♠ 10
K Q 9 10 7 5
♣-10 9 – ♣ K
♠ 7
4
A 6 4
♣ —

A spade is led to dummy forcing a club discard from West. A club is ruffed in the closed hand and a low diamond led to West, who wins and has to lead away from his other diamond honor.
Thanks to Tim Bourke, Australia, for this one.