Test Your Play

1. IMPs. Both vulnerable. West Deals.
♠ 4 3 2
J 4
A Q 10 4 2
♣ A 10 5

♠ A K Q J 10
A 8 2
K 3
♣ K 8 4

 

West North East South
3 Pass Pass Dbl
Pass 5 Pass 6♠

West leads the K. Assuming East has a singleton heart, is this slam 100%? Plan the play.

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

100%? More like 1000%. Win the A and play five rounds of spades, discarding a heart and a club from dummy, and continue with the K and a diamond.

If West follows to the second diamond, and could conceivably have four diamonds (i.e., he had fewer than three spades), insert the 10 and claim. If it wins, you have at least 12 and almost certainly 13 tricks: five spades, five diamonds, two clubs and one heart. If it loses you have 12 tricks, (one less diamond trick).

If West shows out on the second diamond (or the first), and assuming East has correctly saved five diamonds (otherwise you can concede a diamond for 12 tricks), East’s last seven cards must be five diamonds and two clubs. Win the A, play the ♣K A, stripping East of clubs, and exit dummy with a low diamond. East must win and return a
diamond into dummy’s Q–10.

You must avoid the trap of playing fewer than five rounds of spades even if spades divide 3–2 or 4–1. Say you play four rounds of spades and then the K and a diamond only to find East with five diamonds. The lead is now in the dummy and you can’t conveniently force a club discard from East. Say you enter your hand with the ♣K and play your last spade, discarding a club from dummy. East discards a diamond and you have to lose two more tricks. If you discard a diamond rather than a
club from dummy, East also discards a diamond. Now the best you can do is play the ♣A 10 and hope East has to take the trick and lead a diamond. Don’t hold your breath.

2. Both vulnerable. South deals.
♠ 6 4 2
7 3
A Q 9 8 3 2
♣ Q 2

♠ A K 5
A K 4
K
♣ A K 8 6 4 3

West North East South
2♣
Pass 3 Pass 4♣
Pass 6NT All Pass

If you don’t like the bidding, remember it’s a play problem!

West leads the J, East playing an encouraging 8. Plan the play at IMPs and matchpoints.

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

At IMPs: The best way to take out insurance against bad breaks in both minors is to win the opening lead, cash the K and duck a club (key play). Win the likely heart return, cross to the ♣Q and play the A Q, discarding a heart and a spade. If dummy’s diamonds are high, you can even overcome 5–0 clubs because you have the rest. If diamonds don’t come in, you still have the balance providing clubs aren’t 5–0. Cross to a spade and run the clubs. You have 12 tricks: five clubs, three diamonds and the ace-king of both major suits.

At matchpoints: No ducking a trick at matchpoints on this deal. You have far too good a chance to make seven. Win the opening lead, cash the K, cross to the ♣Q and play the A Q, discarding a heart and a spade. If the diamonds aren’t set up, play the ♣A K. If they break 3–2, you have the rest. If they break 4–1, concede a club and hope the hand that takes the trick doesn’t have the long diamond. If it doesn’t, your hand is high.