Test Your Play

1. IMPs. None vulnerable. South Deals.
♠ K 6 5 4
A 8 7 6
8 3
♣ A 7 3

♠ A J 3
K 5
A 10 6
♣ K J 5 4 2

 

West North East South
1NT
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 3NT All Pass

The opening lead is the 5 (fourth best). East plays the K, which you duck, and returns the 9 to the 10 and jack. West exits with the Q to your ace as you pitch a heart from dummy, East contributing the 2. Now what?

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♠ K 6 5 4
A 8 7 6
8 3
♣ A 7 3
♠ Q 8 2 ♠ 10 9 7
J Q 10 9 4 3 2
Q J 7 5 4 K 9 2
♣ 10 9 8 6 ♣ Q
♠ A J 3
K 5
A 10 6
♣ K J 5 4 2

Basically you are looking for four club tricks without letting West in, but there is no rush in attacking clubs (more on that coming up). A possible Zia play at trick two is to take a
Chinese finesse by leading the ♠J! Who knows, West may have Q–x–x and play low. If the jack wins, cash the ace and king. If spades are 3–3, you have nine tricks. But enough
dreaming.

Say the jack loses (or is covered) and a heart or spade comes back. In all cases, win in dummy and lead a low club intending to play the king unless East plays the queen. If East plays the queen, play low. Unless East has a very unlikely five clubs, you have four club tricks or nine in all. If East follows with a low club, win the king and lead a low club. If West follows with the lowest outstanding club, play low, and unless West started with four clubs, East will win and you will have nine tricks: four clubs, two hearts, two spades and the A. If West plays a non-lowest club, win the ace and get out with a third club hoping (praying) East has the queen.

Before the letters to the editor start rolling in, yes, you are going to have plenty of explaining to do if West started with ♣Q 10 x x along with three low spades. In this case you
could have taken four spade tricks and made your contract via a simple non-Chinese finesse. Also, if East started with the doubleton 10–8 or 10–6 of clubs and plays the 10 when a club is led from dummy, he can promote a club entry in the West hand thus foiling your second round ducking play. But even if East is that clever and you win the second club in dummy, you still won’t know who has the queen. If you somehow deduce that West has it, however, it would be nice to be able to take a “normal” spade finesse and try for four spade tricks via natural childbirth. In the
real world, running the ♠J is not a bad shot. Besides, if it works, West will be destroyed for the rest of the match!

2. Matchpoints. Both vulnerable. North deals.
♠ Q 9 6 4
A 6
K J 5
♣ A K 4 2

♠ A 5 3 2
4
A Q 10 6 3 2
♣ Q 6

West North East South
1NT 2♣(1) 3
4 5 Pass 6
All Pass

(1) Majors.
West leads the 3. When you test trumps, you find that West started with three, East one. Plan the play.

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♠ Q 9 6 4
A 6
K J 5
♣ A K 4 2
♠ — ♠ K J 10 8 7
J 8 5 3 2 K Q 10 9 7
9 7 4 8
♣ J 10 7 5 3 ♣ 9 8
♠ A 5 3 2
4
A Q 10 6 3 2
♣ Q 6

With East marked with 10 major-suit cards, the idea is to avoid two spade losers by ducking a spade into East when East is down to all spades. Here’s how …
Win the A, play five rounds of diamonds, discarding a club and a spade from the table, and then the ♣Q and a club leaving this forced
five-card end position:

♠ Q 9 6
6
♣ A
♠ — ♠ K J 10
J 8 5 K 10
♣ J 10 ♣ —
♠ A 5 3 2
6
♣ —

The ♣A is played from dummy, obliging East to discard a high heart as you discard a spade. Now a heart is ruffed in the closed hand and a spade ducked to East, who must return a spade.