Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

West leads the A and continues with a high heart. You ruff low in dummy and East follows, playing high–low. You try a low spade from dummy: East rises with the king, West shedding a heart, and switches to the ♣Q. Take over from here.

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

Cash dummy’s two high clubs, discarding a heart, and ruff a club. Assuming everyone follows, cross back to the A (it doesn’t hurt to lead the jack) and ruff dummy’s last club. If everyone follows, the deal counts out. West is 0=7=2=4 and East 4=2=3=4. You now have a claim. Cash the ♠Q and play the K. If both follow low, exit a diamond to East’s queen and take the last two tricks with the ♠A 10. If West’s Q drops doubleton, you still have a spade loser, but you make four.

If, when you ruff dummy’s last club, West shows out, West is known to have a 0=7=3=3 pattern and East a 4=2=2=5 pattern. You are now reduced to finding East with the Q x. You cannot make the contract at this point if West started with the Q–x–x.

By the way, Steve Garner, who sent me this hand, would have played 4♠ doubled exactly as described — if he hadn’t run to 5 after the double!

2. IMPs

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

Playing against strong opponents, you elect to open the South hand 2♠, weak. Partner “keycards” you into 7♠ after finding out you have the ♠Q and the ♣K.

Two-part question: How do you play on the lead of the Q? On the 2 lead?

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

A. With the heart lead win the ace (nice play), cross to the ♣K, ruff a heart low, cash the ♣A, the ♠K, and lead a low club. If East follows, ruff with the 8. If both follow, draw trumps, enter dummy with the A and discard your remaining two hearts and low diamond on three winning clubs in dummy. If East shows out on the third club, ruff, draw trumps, and take the diamond finesse to come to 13 tricks as you only have three club tricks.

The reason for cashing the ♣A and then ruffing a club as opposed to ruffing a low club is to see if clubs break 4–3, in which case you don’t need the diamond finesse. The play gains when East has a doubleton club, warning you that you need the diamond finesse. Aside from any brilliancy-award falsecard from West holding ♣J x x (x) and four spades, cashing the ♣A before ruffing a club loses when West has the ♣J x and four spades. In this case, the inferior play of ruffing a low club instead of cashing the ace would have worked.

B. With a diamond lead (a strong player might well lead from the king knowing that the A is in the dummy) the odds of taking the finesse are considerably better than going up with the A hoping either defender specifically has J–x–x of clubs. Your only entry to the clubs is the A, so you can’t ruff a heart and get five club tricks. Assuming the finesse wins, cash the A, the ♠K, cross to the ♣K, ruff a heart, ruff a club low, draw trumps, and enter dummy with the A where tricks 12 and 13, the ♣A Q, are longingly waiting for you to cash them.