Test Your Play

1. Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable. North Deals.
♠ J 3 2
K 10 9 8 6
10 6 5 3 2
♣ —

♠ A K 10 4
A Q J 7 4
K J
♣ 6 3

 

West North East South
1
2♣ 4 5♣ 5
All Pass

West leads the ♣K. Plan the play.

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

In order to get full marks, you must lead a diamond at trick two or draw one round of trump and then lead a diamond. You cannot afford to draw two rounds of trumps even if they break 2–1.

Say you draw two rounds of trumps and lead a diamond, misguessing. West wins and plays a second club reducing dummy to one trump. When you lead a second diamond, East wins and returns a spade. You win the ace, cross to dummy’s last trump, discard a spade on the 10 and if diamonds don’t break 3–3, you are reduced to getting the spades right.

If, however, you touch only one round of hearts and the play develops similarly, this will be the end position after having lost two diamond tricks, East to play:
♠ J 3 2
K 10
10 6 5
♣ —

♠ A K 10 4
A Q J 7

♣ —

Say East leads a spade. At this point it doesn’t matter how the hearts are divided (2–1 or 3–0). Win the ♠A, cross to dummy with the 10,
ruff a diamond, return to dummy with the K and pitch two spades on the established diamonds. As long as the diamonds are no worse than 4–2, you have a lock. And yes, if East started with the A Q x x x and West with two hearts and the ♠Q, you are going down. East can rise with the A, give West a diamond ruff. West exits a club and sits back and waits for the setting trick, the ♠Q. Those who worry about stuff like this should not walk cross the street with a green light.

2. IMP Pairs. E-W vulnerable. South deals.
♠ K J 5 4
A 5
J 8 6 2
♣ 10 5 3

♠ A 7
Q 8 2
A Q 9 5 4 3
♣ A J

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

The opening lead is the J. Plan the play.

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

Your first concern at this form of scoring is your contract. Once that is secure, overtricks are important. After all, an IMP is an IMP.

It’s too risky to duck the opening lead. If East has the K and shifts to a club, you have put yourself at risk unless you can bring in the diamonds The stronger play at trick one is the A. Now you have to worry about keeping East off lead for fear of a heart return if West has the king.

The answer is to lead the J at trick two. If it loses to the king, you have nine sure tricks and your Q
remains protected. The play of the J caters to West having all three diamonds. If you carelessly lead low to the queen, you can’t set up your
diamonds without letting East in.

Strange deal. At trick one, you play the A to prevent East from shifting to a club, and at trick two, you lead the J to prevent East from getting in and shifting to a heart.

It’s true that if you lead a low diamond to the 9 at trick two, you still make your contract even if you lose to a singleton 10, but no sympathy here if you lose this event by an IMP.a surprise for you. The East and West hands (respectively):

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