Test Your Play

1. IMPs

Dlr:
North
Vul:
Both
North
♠ K J 2
7 3
A Q 7 5 2
♣ A 7 4
South
♠ A 9 6 4 3
A K Q J
4 3
♣ K 6

After partner opens 1 and supports spades, you key card your way into 6♠.
West leads the ♣Q. Plan the play.

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

The gist of this deal is to determine if the diamond finesse works before attacking spades. The outcome of the diamond finesse will determine how you play spades, keeping in mind if spades break 3–2, you should get home easily.

Win the opening lead in hand and try a diamond to the queen. Say the finesse wins. Now the idea is to make a safety play in spades, guarding against Q–10–x–x in either hand. The safety play is to cash the ♠K and assuming both follow low, cross to a heart and lead a low spade toward the jack. If West shows out, play the jack to East’s queen. If East returns a minor-suit card, you are in dummy to take the marked spade finesse (low to the 9). If East returns a heart, cross to the ♣A and take the spade finesse.

If West is the one with four spades, West does best to win the ♠Q at trick five and perhaps get out with a club to dummy’s ace. You counter by cashing the ♠J and then the A knowing West still has the king. If West neglects to play the king, it is safe to ruff a diamond back to your hand in order to draw the last trump. If West plays the king, return to your hand with a heart to draw the last trump.

Say something closer to home happens: the diamond finesse loses. Now the idea is to give yourself the best play for five spade tricks. Best is to play West for the ♠Q, more exactly the blank queen, Q–x or Q–x–x. In all three cases, you are home if you start with a low spade from your hand intending to finesse the jack if West plays low. Leading low gains when West has the singleton queen, as it allows you to pick up the suit by eventually leading a low spade to the 9 after cashing the ♠J. Starting with the ace picks up the stiff queen in the East hand, but you remain with a spade loser. It is the stiff queen in the West hand you should be concerned with.

2. Rubber

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

An epic bidding misunderstanding: You open 2♣, partner bids 2 (waiting) and then follows up with 3♣ (double negative) over your 2 rebid. You now leap to 6♣ thinking partner has clubs. Fortunately, he does! What a way to get to your best slam contract.

West leads the 2 (fourth best) to East’s queen and your ace. When you try the ♣K at trick two, East discards a diamond! There is no justice. Undaunted, you continue with the ♣8, which West ducks again, East discarding another diamond. Plan the play from here.

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

Well, you need the ♠K with East, and East figures to have four hearts, so overtake the ♣8 with dummy’s 10 and run the ♠Q. Assuming it holds, do not repeat the spade finesse because West may ruff. Instead, run the 9 and assume that holds. You still aren’t home, but you’re getting there. One more piece of luck is all you need. Lead a heart to the 10 and if that does not get ruffed, you are home!

Play the ♣Q. If West wins and returns a diamond, win and play hearts through West. No way West can get more than the ♣A. If West ducks the ♣Q, cash the K and continue with hearts. It’s all over but adding up the score.

For the record, West had:

♠5 3  8 2   9 6 5 2   ♣A 9 5 4 3.

West can save the day by winning the ♣8 at trick three and getting out with either a club or a diamond.