Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

After you open 1, there is no stopping partner from agreeing hearts via Jacoby 2NT and then driving to 6 via Roman Key Card Blackwood.

West gets off to the lead you don’t want to see: a low diamond. Plan the play.

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

West leads a low diamond against 6.

Assuming you have a spade loser — a reasonable assumption because you do unless West has king–jack doubleton — you need the heart finesse to work.

Translation: There is no compelling need to risk playing three rounds of clubs just yet. Why pay off to 6–2 clubs?

Win the A and run the 8. Assuming the finesse works, repeat the finesse and draw trumps whether they are 2–2 or 3–1. If they are 4–0, go back to trick one and take the diamond finesse! If hearts are 4–0, draw four rounds of trumps, discard a diamond on the third club, and play the ♠A. If no honor falls (darn), either lead a low spade hoping an opponent has K–x, or lead the ♠Q hoping an opponent has J–x.

If trumps are a more civilized 2–2 or 3–1, draw the outstanding trumps, and play three rounds of clubs, discarding a diamond. Then ruff a diamond and lead a low spade to the queen. If the queen holds, lead a low spade to the 10 guarding against K–J–x–x with West. Once the queen wins, you have a claimer.

If the ♠Q loses to a singleton king, East has no safe exit. After East surrenders a ruff and a sluff, ruff in your hand, discard a spade from dummy, and run the ♠10. If East started with the ♠K and the ♠J (any) length, tomorrow is another day.

Thanks to Keith Garber of Las Vegas NV for this one.

2. IMPs

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

West leads the ♣K. You ruff in dummy and lead the K, West discarding a club. Plan the play.

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

West leads the ♣K. You ruff in dummy and lead the K, West discarding a club.

Remember, you can afford to lose two tricks. Lead a second diamond and duck when East plays an honor. East must return a club or else you have 11 easy tricks: Five spades, five diamonds (including a club ruff in dummy) and the A.

When a second club is played, discard a heart from dummy. When a third club is played, ruff in your hand, cross to the ♠A, take the marked diamond finesse, draw East’s remaining two trumps via a diamond finesse, and discard your losing heart on dummy’s fifth spade.

Thanks to Allan Falk of Okemos MI for this one.