Test Your Play

1. IMPs. No one vulnerable.
♠ K 10 3
Q 4
6 5 4
♣ A Q J 10 9

♠ K 10 3
A K 10 9 5 3
A 9
♣ 7 2

 

West North East South
1
Pass 2♣ Pass 3
Pass 3♠ Pass 3NT
Pass 4 Pass 6
All Pass

West leads the Q. You’ve “leaned” into this one. Now all you have to do is make it. East signals encouragement. What’s the best line of play?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr: South ♠ K 10 3
Vul: None Q 4
6 5 4
♣ A Q J 10 9
♠ Q 7 6 5 ♠ J 9 8
7 J 8 6 2
Q J 10 8 K 7 3 2
♣ K 8 6 3 ♣ 5 4
♠ A 4 2
A K 10 9 5 3
A 9
♣ 7 2

Whatever else, you need to find the ♣K onside so take a club finesse at trick two. Assuming it works, return to the K (key play) and if the J doesn’t appear (in which case you can draw trump before repeating the club finesse), repeat the club finesse. Assuming East hasn’t gently placed a red card
looking very much like a heart on this second club play, play the ♣A. If clubs are 3–3 (sure!), discard a diamond, cash the Q, ruff a diamond, and play the A. If hearts are 3–2, you have the rest. If hearts are 4–1, concede a heart and claim as you can pitch your losing spade on a winning club.

If East ruffs the third club, overruff, return to the Q, ruff a club, draw the last trump, cross to the ♠K and pitch your losing spade on dummy’s fifth club. The key is not to play the Q and another heart after the club finesse works at trick two. If you do and find East with J–x–x–x in hearts and two
clubs, down you go unless there is an unlikely black‑suit squeeze against West. It is more likely that hearts are 4–1 than clubs 5–1.

Thanks to Robert Ng from Millbrae CA for this one.

2. Matchpoints. E-Wvulnerable.
♠ A 9 3 2
Q J 6
9 4 3 2
♣ A 2

♠ —
A K 8 5 4 3 2
6
♣ K 8 7 5 3

 

West North East South
1
Pass 1♠ Pass 2♣
Pass 3 Pass 4♣
Pass 5♣ Pass 6
All Pass

West leads the K followed by the A, East signaling encouragement.

You’re in a great slam with only 21 HCP between the two hands, not to mention a wasted ♠A. How do you play it?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr: South ♠ A 9 3 2
Vul: E-W Q J 6
9 4 3 2
♣ A 2
♠ Q 10 8 6 ♠ K J 7 5 4
10 9 7
A K J 5 Q 10 8 7
♣ J 9 ♣ Q 10 6 4
♠ —
A K 8 5 4 3 2
6
♣ K 8 7 5 3

There are three possible ways to attack this layout, keeping in mind you are highly unlikely to make the contract if clubs are 5–1 unless the player with the singleton club also has a singleton trump. Better to concentrate on 4–2 club divisions and/or a possible 3–0 heart division. These things happen.

Line A: Cash a high heart intending to ruff two clubs high in dummy. This loses to a 3–0 heart division when clubs are 4–2.

Line B: Lead a heart to dummy’s queen and then play the ♣AK and ruff a club high if West follows, low if he doesn’t. This loses when East has two clubs and two hearts. If East has two clubs and three hearts, the hand is not makable.

Line C: Play the ♣AK and ruff a club high if West follows to the third club. This loses when West has four clubs and three hearts as you won’t know that you can ruff the next club low and will go down to this distribution. Line B also loses to this distribution. The big pickup for line C (which makes it the best line) is that it wins when West has three hearts and two clubs. Line A loses immediately to this holding and Line B does as well. West can defeat line B by upper-cutting dummy on the third round of clubs and overruffing dummy on the fourth round. West cannot defeat line C if three rounds of clubs are played immediately.

Thanks to Tom Fox of Fargo ND for this one.

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