1. Matchpoints

Dlr:
North
Vul:
None
North
♠ —
A K 10
A Q 7 6 4 2
♣ A 8 5 4
South
♠ A Q 8 7 3 2
9 8 6 5 3 2
♣ Q
 WEst North East South 1♦ Pass 1♠ Pass 2♣ Pass 3♥(1) Pass 6♥(2) All Pass

(1) Invitational.
(2) I had to get you to 6 somehow.

West leads the ♣J. Plan the play.

At some point you will lead a trump towards dummy. Assume West plays low and you play the ace. Will your follow-up play in trumps be any different if East follows low as opposed to an honor? Hold that thought while we tackle the early play.

Win the ♣A and ruff a low diamond. Maybe East will err and play the king. Unlikely. Assuming East plays low, ruff, cross to the A, play the A and ruff a diamond.

If the K has dropped third (you need it to be third or fourth), you are now cold for seven if hearts break 2–2 and will only make six if hearts are 3–1, whether or not you take a winning finesse. The trick you gain in hearts, you lose back when you can’t ruff a spade in dummy. Because it doesn’t do you any good to take a winning heart finesse, go up with the king. This is matchpoints, after all.

If the K has not dropped third, you are still alive if hearts are 2–2 and someone has K x x x. Cross to the K and ruff a third diamond. You wind up with seven heart tricks, three aces, and two established diamonds.

And what about taking a finesse on the second round of trumps if an honor appeared from East on the first heart play? If someone holds four diamonds to the king, you can’t make six even with a winning finesse (i.e., trumps are 3–1). Count your tricks: Six hearts, three aces and two established diamonds come to 11. Might as well go up with the K, as it is your only chance to make six and doesn’t cost you anything if hearts are 3–1.

Thanks to Nishan Odabashian, Glendale CA, for this one.

2.IMPs

Dlr:
North
Vul:
Both
North
♠ Q 3 2
A K 5
J 6
♣ A K Q 7 3
South
♠ A K J 10 9 4
J 10
A 8 4 2
♣ 5
 WEst North East South 1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass 2NT Pass 3♠ Pass 4♥ Pass 4NT(1) Pass 5♠(2) Pass 5NT Pass 7♠ All Pass

(1) RKCB.
(2) 2 key cards with the ♠Q.
A. How do you play if the lead is the 10?
B. How do you play if the lead is the ♣10?