Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

What does it all mean? 3NT was forcing, asking partner to cuebid a side-suit king or ace. 5♠ said no side-suit ace or king, but great trumps. You decide that is not enough and pass. (Listen, I had to get you to 5♠.)

West leads the J. Spades are 2–2. Plan the play.

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

Assuming 2–2 spades, and assuming the second heart doesn’t get ruffed, you have a 100% play. Cash a second heart, then two rounds of spades ending in dummy, keeping two dummy entries in spades, and lead the J.

1. Say East ducks and West wins. West is endplayed. A club return immediately ends the problem, and you are playing for a possible overtrick if the remaining diamond honor drops doubleton. If West returns a diamond, play low from dummy and, assuming the 9 drives out your ace, play the 8 to drive out the remaining honor. Now dummy’s 10 can be used to discard a club.

2. If East covers, win the ace, cross to dummy with a trump and lead a low diamond towards your now-doubleton 8. If East takes the trick with the 9 and plays a club, win, and use your 8 to drive out the remaining honor, again setting up dummy’s 10 for a club discard.

If West wins the 8 with the 9, there are now two diamonds remaining — an honor and a low diamond — and West has a wonderful choice of evils. Either diamond return allows you to set up dummy’s remaining diamond for a club pitch (you cover the low one with the 10, of course). A club return is also fatal for the defense. A heart return is the worst for them: You ruff in dummy, discarding a diamond from your hand, and take the club finesse for a possible overtrick.

2. IMPs

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

Contract: 6

Opening lead: ♣2 from a conservative but reasonable player. Say you win dummy’s queen, smartly unblocking the 10, and lead the A. East shows out (what did you expect?), discarding an encouraging diamond. When you play the A and another diamond, East plays the king and West the queen on the second diamond. When you play the ♠A and another spade, West plays the ♠9 and ♠10. Plan the play and be specific.

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

For openers, you must reduce to a three-card end position where you have the K J and a club and West the Q 10 9. You lead your club, West ruffs and is trump endplayed. In order to reach this ending, West must have started with three or four clubs. Therefore, your first move is to find out which and play accordingly. So after finding out the bad news in trumps, cash the ♣A K (pitching a diamond from dummy) and see what happens.

Scenario I: Clubs are 3–3. In order to arrive at the desired ending, West must have started with a 3=4=3=3 pattern including the ♠Q as you must discard a club on a third spade to arrive at the winning ending where you must remain with one club. Play the A, ruff a diamond, cash the ♠A, take the spade finesse discarding a club on the ♠K, and ruff another diamond. Now lead your fifth club. West ruffs, but you take the last two tricks with the K J.

Scenario II: West has four clubs. To survive this club division, West must be either 2=4=3=4 or 3=4=2=4, and you have to ruff twice in your hand to reduce to the proper trump length.

When West has four clubs, you must not cash a fourth club prematurely as you will be squeezing the dummy. Say you start with the A and a diamond ruff and then play the ♠A and a low spade towards dummy’s K–J. If West plays the queen, believe him, win the ♠K and ruff a second diamond. If West plays the ♠9 and ♠10, chances are that West has the ♠Q and was afraid to lead from either queen. Also, a doubleton spade lead would likely be more attractive than low from four small. So if you are right, win the ♠K and ruff a spade to bring about the desired ending.