Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

After you (South) open 1 and partner responds 2NT (Jacoby), partner takes charge and you wind up in 6. West leads the ♠2, fourth best, and East plays the ♠9. Plan the play.

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

You declare 6 on an uncontested auction. West leads the ♠2 to East’s 9.

Your first move should be to take the diamond finesse. Your future play depends upon what happens. If the finesse loses, you are reduced to the heart finesse, the percentage play in the suit to make the contract.

If the finesse wins, cash the A and if the king does not drop and both follow, discard the Q on the ♠K and ruff a diamond. There is no chance you will be overruffed because West still has the K. Next, lead the J to the ace. If both follow low, ruff the ♠J, and with spades and diamonds both stripped, exit a heart and claim. Whoever wins has to lead a club or concede a ruff and a sluff, either of which is immediate death.

If one opponent turns up with K–x–x of hearts, drive out the K, (stripping the last spade won’t help or hurt), win the major-suit return, and try to get as much of a count on the hand as you can (reducing to three clubs in both your hand and dummy) to determine who started with longer clubs and play that hand for the queen. Unless something dramatic has happened in spades, chances are the hand that was void in hearts started with the longer club holding.

If East ruffs the A, a black return eliminates the club guess, and if he ruffed with K–x of hearts, he must exit with the K to even give you a problem, and he may be loathe to do that. If East ruffed with two low hearts, he certainly will get out with a heart, reducing you to pitching the Q on the ♠K and playing East for the ♣Q (he would have three red cards, presumptively five or six spades, and therefore four or five clubs, compared to West’s seven red cards, three or four spades and two or three clubs).

Notice that after the diamond finesse wins, you do not have the wherewithal to cash the A before stripping spades and diamonds. You are short one quick dummy entry (the A) to pull this off.

2. Matchpoints

Dlr:
North
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 10 8 7 4 3
8 6
A K Q J 10 7
♣ —
South
♠ —
A K Q J 9 3 2
♣ A K J 10 5 4

One way to get to 7 after partner opens 1 is to bid 7, which you do. West leads the ♠Q and there you are. Plan the play.

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

North opens 1. You respond 7. West leads the ♠Q.

Don’t try to make this one more complicated than it is. Ruff the opening lead, ruff a low club, ruff a spade, ruff a second club, cash the A K, discarding two clubs, and ruff a third spade with the 9 (this ruff should be safe as East doesn’t figure to have six spades headed perhaps by the ace–king and not bid after the 1 opening). Now draw trumps, noticing you can handle 4–0 hearts, and cash the ♣A K for 13 tricks: seven hearts in the closed hand, two clubs ruffs in dummy, and the ace–king of both minors.

All you needed was to find clubs and diamonds no worse than 5–2, and not even 5–2 diamonds if the ♣Q was singleton or doubleton. Starting with one high club can be fatal if a third round of clubs is ruffed with the 10 by a defender holding two low clubs.

Thanks to Norm Schwartz of San Marcos CA for this one.