Test Your Play

1. Matchpoints

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

(1) Cuebid for spades

The opening lead is the 2. East plays the queen and you win the ace. You plunk down the ♣A, cross to a spade, both following, and ruff a club, East producing the queen. You return to dummy with a trump, East discarding a diamond, and lead another low club, East discarding another diamond. You have now arrived at a 100% contract. See it?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

Ruff the club and start running spades reducing to this forced five-card ending. Keep in mind you know the distribution of both defenders’ hands: West started with 3=3=1=6, East with 1=4=6=2.

Dlr:
West
Vul:
None
North
♠—
A 7
7 5
♣ J
West
♠ —
???
♣ K 10
East
♠ —
???
K 10
♣ —
South
♠ 8
K J 3
J
♣ —

Play your last trump, and West must find a discard. If West discards a club, discard a diamond from dummy, cross to the A and lead the ♣J, discarding the J. West wins and must lead a heart into your K–J. Therefore, West must discard a heart instead.

If West discards a heart, discard the ♣J from dummy and now East has to discard. If East discards a heart, hearts must be 2–2, so the A–K will pick up the suit. If East discards a diamond, give up a diamond and establish dummy’s remaining diamond for your 12th trick without needing to find the Q. 100%!

2.IMPs

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

The bidding is somewhat cowardly, but you land in 5♣. The opening lead is the ♠Q, East encouraging. Plan the play. Reminder: You are playing IMPs!

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

If hearts are 4–3, you can easily make a grand slam by winning the first trick and ruffing a heart, but because this is IMPs you must prepare for a 5–2 heart break, maybe even a 6–1, perish the thought.

The mandatory play at trick one is to duck the first trick (you’ll see why soon enough), win the likely spade return, cash one high club, and then the A K. Now let’s consider the critical distributions of the East–West hands to see why this is the best line of play.

First, West:

1. West has two clubs and one heart. West ruffs the second heart, but can’t put East in to lead a trump, so you can ruff a heart and get rid of your remaining heart on a diamond.

2. West has two clubs and two hearts. West ruffs the third heart, but can’t put East in to lead a trump, so you can ruff your remaining heart.

3. West has one club and two hearts. Cashing one club first allows you to ruff a heart and make an overtrick. Even if you failed to cash one high club first, you still make your contract. After West ruffs the third heart, and can’t put East in, you can ruff your remaining heart.

Now the East hand (the one you don’t want to be short in hearts):

1. East has two clubs and one heart. If East ruffs the second heart, and can’t put partner in to lead a trump, you make the contract as you can ruff a third heart, etc. If, however, East refuses to ruff the second heart, you will eventually lose two heart tricks. Down one. Tip: Sign up East as a future partner.

2. East has two clubs and two hearts. Forget it, you can’t make the contract.

3. East has one club and two hearts. You make an overtrick. Had you not cashed a high club early, you still make your contract because East can’t put West in to lead a second trump after overruffing dummy on the third round of hearts.

Clearly the key play is to duck the first spade. Cashing one high club is also best.