Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

It wasn’t pretty, but all your slams should be this good. West leads a trump and East follows. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

You start with 11 tricks, including a spade ruff in dummy, and have multiple chances to make this contract. The idea is to give yourself all of them.

Start by winning the lead in dummy and ruffing a club, no ace appearing. (One chance gone: East mistakenly rising with the ♣A). Exit a spade.

Say East wins and returns a second trump, West discarding a spade. (Second chance gone: The player with the ♠A had the remaining trump, so you can’t ruff two spades in dummy if necessary.)

Ruff a second club, ruff a low spade with dummy’s last trump and ruff a third club. If no ace appears, you still have many more chances coming up!

Cash the ♠Q, discarding a heart, cross to a heart and ruff a fourth club. These two plays gave you two more chances: The ♠J dropping third or clubs breaking 4–4, in which case dummy’s fifth club will be a parking place for your ♠10.

Let’s say none of this has happened. It still not over. Everyone has three cards left in this carefully crafted ending when you lead your first 10: the 10.

Dlr:
North
Vul:
Both
North
♠ —
A 3
♣ K
South
♠ 10
10
10
♣ —

At this point, you know who has the ♣A. Hopefully it is West, because if West has the ♣A and East has the ♠J, they will each remain with two hearts. On the last trump, West must discard a heart, you discard the ♣K and East will be squeezed between the ♠J and his two remaining hearts. Finally, something worked.

Actually, you still have other chances. If East started with the ♣A and West with five hearts and the ♠J, he will be squeezed on the last diamond, as would East if he started with five hearts and the ♠J. The bottom line is that you would have to be unbelievably unlucky not to make this slam if you take all of your chances.

2. IMPs

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

Question 1: West leads the 3, and luck is your lady tonight: The queen holds, East playing the jack. Plan the play.

Question 2: How would you play with the same lead if dummy had one less spade and one more heart (the Q winning the first trick)?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

Question 1: Before taking the club finesse(s), lay down the A. If an honor falls, you can set up your ninth trick in diamonds even if the honor is singleton. (If it is from K–Q doubleton, you have the rest.) If no honor drops, switch your focus to clubs. You need only to find split club honors or both honors with East to lock up this contract. Cross to dummy with a spade and lead a low club. (Might as well guard against a singleton honor in the East hand, which will establish five club tricks for you, though you need only two.) If the finesse loses, win the heart return, return to dummy with a spade, keeping a spade entry to your hand, and run the ♣J.

Question 2: Once again, try A at trick two. If an honor falls from West, you cannot afford to play a second diamond. If West shows out, East will capture an honor, clear hearts, and now you don’t have time to establish clubs. If East plays an honor, however, you can afford to play a second diamond. If West has four diamonds and rises, you have 11 tricks. If West plays low, play an honor from dummy. If East shows out, attack clubs. You need only find East with one club honor to make your game. The best play in clubs for five tricks is low to the 10 and then run the jack, guarding against a singleton honor with East. If East has a singleton diamond honor, however, don’t expect to find a singleton club honor with East as well. Might as well run the jack. Who knows? East may make an errant cover with honor-fourth, allowing for overtricks.

Question 2 add on: If East plays a diamond honor at trick two holding K–Q–9–8, enticing you to lead a second diamond, drop out of this game as quickly as possible. You are in over your head. Way over your head!