Test Your Play

1. IMPs

♠ Q 8 3
K 8
J 7 4 3 2
♣ K Q 4
♠ 9 6 5
A 10 9 7 3
A K 5
♣ A 3
WEst North East South
Pass 3NT All Pass

West leads the ♠4 (fourth best). You elect to play low. East wins the ♠10 and continues with the ♠K, West following with the ♠2. East exits with the ♣J. Assuming West has five spades, plan the play.


Win the ♣A and lead a low heart. If West plays low, insert the 8. Assuming this loses and a club comes back to dummy, cash the K. If both follow, cash dummy’s remaining club, discarding a spade, return to the closed hand via a diamond, and play the A, discarding a spade from dummy. If hearts are 3–3, you have at least nine tricks: four hearts, three clubs and two diamonds. If hearts are 4–2 and a heart honor is outstanding, forget hearts and hope the Q is doubleton. If it is, you have 10 tricks. If it isn’t, tomorrow is another day.

If West shows out when you lead the K at trick six (meaning East started with Q J x x x), leave the high club in dummy and cross to the A. If the Q is singleton, concede a heart and you have nine tricks: three hearts, three diamonds and three clubs. If the Q isn’t singleton, hope it is doubleton and play the other diamond honor. If the queen comes tumbling down, you have 10 tricks. If it doesn’t, tomorrow is another day.

Finally, if West plays an honor when you lead a low heart at trick four, win the king and cross to the A hoping the other honor falls. If it doesn’t, and both follow, play West for Q–J–x–(x) of hearts and switch your attention to diamonds, hoping the queen is doubleton. If it is, you have 10 tricks. If both follow and no queen, exit a diamond and hope East wins with an original 2=2=3=6 pattern. East must put you in dummy with a club, and now you score four diamonds, three clubs and two hearts. If, however, instead of a club, East produces a low heart to West’s remaining honor (or West wins the diamond exit), tomorrow is another day.

2. Matchpoints

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

After North opens 1♠ and you (South) respond 2♣, you wind up in 6♣ against silent opponents. The opening lead is theQ. You win and play the ♣Q.

  1. How do you play if someone shows out?
  2. How do you play if both follow, but when you lead a club to the 9, someone shows out?
  3. How do you play if both follow to two rounds of clubs?

1. If someone shows out, play five rounds of clubs, discarding a heart and a spade from dummy, and cross to a high spade. If an honor falls, play a second high spade, and if the other honor falls, you have 12 tricks without needing the diamond finesse. If the other honor doesn’t fall, run the J. If no honor appears on the first spade, run the J. Notice that you cannot afford to cash a high diamond first because the suit is blocked if the jack is covered on the next lead of the suit.

2. If clubs are 4–1, draw trumps discarding a heart from dummy, cash the A and cross to a spade. If an honor drops, play a second spade hoping the other honor drops. If doesn’t, run the J. Given this scenario, you can afford to cash a high diamond first because you have a trump entry to your hand if the J is covered.

3. If clubs are 3–2: Cross to a spade and assuming both follow low, play a second high spade. If both follow low, ruff a spade. If spades are 3–3, cash the A, cross to the ♣K, discard a heart and a diamond on the established spades and take the diamond finesse for the overtrick.

If West follows with an honor on the second spade, lead the ♠10 from dummy. If East plays low, discard a heart. If West wins the queen, you have the balance as both of your low diamonds go off on dummy’s spades. If West ruffs and exits a heart, you are reduced to the diamond finesse after cashing the A. If West discards on the third spade, draw the last trump and run the J. It’s dangerous to cash the A first with West having two black doubletons: West could have six diamonds! If West has a singleton Q (what you are protecting against), West has started with eight hearts!

If East follows with an honor on the second spade, lead the ♠10. If East covers, ruff, and you are playing for an overtrick. If East discards, discard a heart. If West wins and does not have the odd trump, West must play a spade allowing East to ruff, forcing you to take the diamond finesse after you overruff. If East errs and leads a heart, you have the rest. If West has the odd trump, there is nothing West can do to prevent you from using both of dummy’s established spades to discard diamonds.

Thanks to Jonathan Weinstein of Princeton NJ for this one.