Test Your Play

1. IMPs

Dlr:
West
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K 5
A K 4 2
K 7 6 5 2
♣ 7 6
South
♠ 10
9
A 8 3
♣ K 10 9 8 5 4 3 2
WEst North East South
1♠ Dbl 2♠ 5♣
All Pass

Opening lead: 4. Plan the play. If you play low from dummy, East plays the 9.

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

If a lead looks like a singleton and smells like a singleton, assume it is a singleton. Furthermore, West figures to have both black aces to justify the opening bid. So if West has a singleton diamond, he is unlikely to also have a singleton ♣A. Apparently West has the ♣A J doubleton because he might have led the ♠A with the ♠A Q, and he might have doubled 5♣ with those cards.

Even though you apparently have three inescapable losers, hope springs eternal. Win the A, cash the A K, discarding a spade, ruff a heart, and make the big play — the ♣K.

Assuming the clubs are as you projected, and West has no more hearts, the best West can do is win the ♣A, cash the ♣J and lead the ♠A. It’s over! You ruff and cross to the K to pitch your last diamond on the ♠K.

If instead of leading the ♣K you lead a lower club allowing East to win the queen, East can beat you several ways. East can return a diamond, driving out dummy’s only entry. This
allows West to safely exit with the ♠A when in with the ♠A. You ruff, but can’t get to dummy to use the ♠K and wind up losing a diamond.

East can also get out with a spade forcing you to ruff. Once again, West has a safe exit with the ♠A when in with the ♣A. What East can’t do is lead a heart. You ruff and now West is in big trouble. If West overruffs he has to lead the ♠A while the K is still in the dummy. If West discards a spade, you gently throw him with the ♣A, again forcing the ♠A lead.

2. Matchpoints

Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 7 5
K Q 9 6
10 3 2
♣ A J 8 4
South
♠ A K Q 10 9 4
A
7 6
♣ K Q 3 2
WEst North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1♠
Pass 1NT Pass 4♠
All Pass

West leads the A (ace from ace–king). East signals encouragement with the 9, and West continues with the K and a low diamond to East’s queen. You ruff and lead the ♠A.

  1. How do you continue if East shows out, discarding a heart?
  2. How do you play for an overtrick if both follow to the ♠A, but West shows out on the ♠K?
CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 7 5
K Q 9 6
10 3 2
♣ A J 8 4
South
♠ A K Q 10 9 4
A
7 6
♣ K Q 3 2

West leads the A (ace from ace–king). East signals encouragement with the 9, and West continues with the K and a low diamond to East’s queen. You ruff and lead the ♠A.

1. East shows out. West has five spades and appears to have the J (if East had the Q J 9, the queen would have been played at trick one). West might have a 5=2=4=2 or a 5=4=3=1 pattern. The bottom line is that you cannot afford to knock out the ♠J because a fourth diamond will promote a long spade for West. Also, if West had a singleton club, West could have shifted to a club at trick two using East’s Q as an entry
to get a club ruff. Using that clue, play West for a 5=2=4=2 pattern.

The winning play is to cash the A, two rounds of clubs ending in dummy and a second high heart discarding a club. You have now reached this five-card end position:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 7
Q 9
♣ J 8
West
♠ J 8 6 3
J
♣ —
East
♠ —
J 10 7
8
♣ 10
South
♠ K Q 10 9
♣ Q

Ruff a heart with the ♠9 and West has no answer.

Had you decided to play West for a 5=4=3=1 pattern, cash the A at trick five, cross to dummy with a club, discard two clubs on high hearts, and ruff a fourth heart again leaving West with no answer.

2. West shows out on the second spade. Now you have to prepare a trump coup and must find East with at least two clubs. Cash the ♥A, cross to dummy with a club, ruff a heart (reducing to East’s spade length), and return to dummy with a club leaving:.

Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ —
K Q
♣ 8 4
South
♠ Q 10
♣ K Q

Now play high hearts. If East ruffs, overruff, draw the last trump, and the rest are yours. If East refuses to ruff, discard both clubs, and take the last two tricks with the ♠Q 10.