Test Your Play

1. Matchpoints

Dlr:
South
Vul:
None
North
♠ A K
6 4 2
K J 8 6
♣ 8 7 5 4
South
♠ 5 4
A Q 8
A Q 10 9 7 5
♣ A K
WEst North East South
1
2(1) 2♠(2) 3♠/td> 4♣
Pass 4♠ Pass 6
All Pass

(1) Majors.
(2) Good diamond raise.

West leads the ♠Q. East plays the ♠6, presumably count. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

The idea is to strip West, who surely has the K, of his minor-suit cards (which shouldn’t be hard), and reduce to this four-card ending, South
to lead:

Dlr:
South
Vul:
None
North
♠ A
6 4 2
♣ —
South
♠ 5
A Q 8
♣ —

At this point, you should have a perfect count on the hand. If the count tells you that West has reduced to two hearts (presumably K–x) and two spades, you can set up the Q for your 12th trick. If West keeps one spade and three hearts, cross to the ♠A and lead a heart. If East plays low, insert the 8. West will be endplayed upon winning the trick.

If West started with theK J 10 x x, he can’t reduce to the K–J–10 lest you duck the heart lead from dummy even if East plays the 9. West does
best, therefore, to discard an honor and reduce to the K J x or the K 10 x, hoping partner has the 9–8
doubleton. Alas, it is not to be. When a heart is led and East, perforce, plays the 9 to stop you from inserting the 8, you will cover with the queen. After West wins the king, your A–8 will be good for the last two tricks.

Yes, the contract can be defeated if East started with the 10 x or J x and plays high at trick 11, but the 9 x just isn’t quite good enough.

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

Thanks to Tim Bourke of Australia for this one.

2. IMPs

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

(1) Game forcing
(2) RKCB 1430
(3) One key card

West leads the ♣2 (low from odd). You play low from dummy and East plays the 4, standard count. After winning the first trick cheaply, you exit (right or wrong) with the ♠Q.

West pitches the ♣6 as East wins the ♠K. East returns the ♣3 to dummy’s king, West following with the 7. How do you continue on the assumption that West started with five clubs and East two?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

In order to neutralize East’s spades, you must reduce to a fourcard ending, which requires ruffing a heart low in dummy. This is the layout you are aiming for with the lead in dummy. If you call for a diamond, East cannot take a trick:

Dlr:
South
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 10
Q 6 5
♣ —
Immaterial
East
♠ 9 8 4 3
♣ —
South
♠ A J 7
♣ A

In order to arrive at this ending, take the heart finesse at trick four (East must have the K for you to have a chance), cash the A K discarding the ♣J, and ruff a diamond low, East either following or discarding a heart. Next, play the A and ruff a heart low. (If East started with two diamonds, his distribution must be 5=4=2=2, meaning it is safe to ruff a heart low.) If East follows to the third diamond (East must have two or three diamonds to pull this off), then East started with a 5=3=3=2 pattern and it is still safe to ruff a heart low.

We have now arrived at the desired end position. A diamond is led from dummy and East does best to ruff with the ♠8. You overruff with the jack, ruff the ♣A with the ♠10 and take the last two tricks via a trump coup. You play so beautifully.

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ 10 5 2
8 6
A K Q 6 5 4
♣ K 5
West
♠ —
J 4 3 2
J 10 3 2
♣ Q 9 7 6 2
East
♠ K 9 8 4 3
K 10 9 5
9 8
♣ 4 3
South
♠ A Q J 7 6
A Q 7
7
♣ A J 10 8

Thanks to Jon Shuster for this one