Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

West leads the 7. Plan the play.

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

You start with 11 top tricks and have several chances for a 12th. For example, you can take two club finesses and come home 76% of the time. You can do better, however.

Win the K, cash the ♠Q, cross to the A and cash two more spades, discarding diamonds. If everyone follows to three spades, play a fourth round and discard another diamond (reducing to the blank A Q in your hand), and lead the ♣J from dummy. If it is covered, you’re gin: Win the ace, cross to dummy with a heart and play the fifth spade, discarding the Q, and concede a club. You have the rest with a high club, a high diamond and a high heart.

If the ♣J loses and a heart comes back, win in dummy, discard the Q on the fifth spade and repeat the club finesse. This line gains when West has one or two hearts and fewer than five spades (as in the diagram). Upon winning the club finesse, West must exit with a club or a diamond giving you a 12th trick without needing a second club finesse.

If West has five spades, you will see East show out on the third spade. Stop playing spades (you will wind up squeezing your hand) and run the ♣J. Say it loses and West exits a heart (best) if he has one. Win in dummy, discard two more diamonds on winning spades and repeat the club finesse.

If West started with five spades but has no more hearts when he wins the club finesse, West’s best return is a spade to dummy as you pitch a diamond. Now you can give yourself a small extra chance by crossing to the A, and if no stiff king falls, return to dummy with a heart, discard the Q on the fifth spade, and repeat the club finesse.

This deal was played by Catherine Cohen of Spokane WA.

2.IMPs

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

West leads the ♠2. East follows with the ♠4. Spades are 3–2. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
South
Vul:
Both
North
♠ K J 10 8
7 6 4
10
♣ J 5 4 3 2
South
♠ A Q 9 7
K 5 2
Q 6 4
♣ A K Q

For this one, the East–West hands are immaterial to the best line of play.

Assuming clubs aren’t 5‑0, this contract is cold if East has the A. The idea is to try to make it even if West has the A. A little subterfuge can’t hurt. One possibility is to win the opening lead in dummy, cash the ♣A K of clubs, cross to dummy and lead a club. Another possibility is to win the lead in dummy, lead a club to the queen, cash the ♣A, return to dummy with a trump (always keeping a later trump entry to dummy) and lead a club. In both cases you are leading towards a high club with a trump outstanding.

What can happen? If a second round of clubs is ruffed with the outstanding trump, you need to find the A onside to make the contract unless West ruffs and errs by leading a heart from the ace. If clubs are 3–2 and the player with the long spade also has the long club, you are home free: Your third high club lives, so you can cross to dummy with a trump, pitch a diamond and a heart on dummy’s winning clubs and lead up to the K, trying for an overtrick.

Say the player with the doubleton club has the odd trump. If it is West, and West ruffs looking at both red aces, West has to underlead the A
to get the heart through to defeat the contract. These underleads of the A from West are not clear. From West’s point of view, declarer might have the K and the Q. So you may still be alive even if West finds this play.

The big pickup comes when East has the doubleton club along with three spades and no A. East must ruff, though not sure that you have the winning club. In any case, you are giving each opponent a chance to err with no risk yourself.