Test Your Play

1.

North
♠ J 2
A K 6
A 9 7 5 4 3 2
♣ K
South
♠ A K Q 10 3
Q J 10 4
♣ A 7 6 4

Playing in a knockout match where (as usual) you’re down at the end of the third quarter, you arrive at this neat 7♠ contract. Make this, and you may pull this match out. The lead is a trump, East following.

A. What is your best chance?
B. Would your play be any different if your hearts were the Q–J–10–9?

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

A. On the trump lead, win the ♠J, cash the ♣K and the A (discarding a club), ruff a diamond back to your hand, and ruff your remaining low club with dummy’s remaining trump.

The best way back to your hand is to first play the A and a heart to the 10, cash your three remaining top spades, discarding the K, and take the last three tricks with the Q J and the ♣A. You need spades and hearts to be no worse than 4–2.

B. You can play even more safely, guarding against 5–1 hearts (which would beat the previous line), by entering your hand with the 9 without cashing the ace first. Then you can discard the A K on the top spades and take the last four tricks with the Q J 10 and the ♣A.

2. Matchpoints

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

(1) Invitations are for peasants.

West leads the ♠3 (fourth best). You play low from dummy, and East thinks a long while before finally playing the 9. Darn. You win the king, cross to the A and back to the K. West discarding the ♠2. Now what?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

You are not in as much trouble as you think. You know that East has two spades (obviously Q–9 or J–9 doubleton) and four hearts. If he has four clubs and three diamonds, or five clubs and two diamonds, you are home.

Play the ♣K, ♣A and ruff a club, and say both follow, meaning you are playing East for four clubs and three diamonds. Cash the ♠A, then the K, A, ruff a diamond and ruff your fourth club and East follows. Don’t look now, but you have already taken 11 tricks! And you still have the Q for trick 12.

What happened to your spade loser and your heart loser? Nothing. You lost them both … on the same trick, trick 13.

If West shows out on the third club, meaning East started with a 2=4=2=5 pattern, ruff the club, cash the ♠A, cross to the K, ruff your last club in dummy and now cash the A and lead a diamond in the three-card end position. Your last three cards are a losing spade and the Q 9. East has the J 10 and a club. West is not involved.

If East discards, ruff with the 9. The ♥Q is your 12th trick and, once again, you lose a spade and a heart on the same (last) trick. If East ruffs the diamond, discard your losing spade, and take the last two tricks with the Q 9.

Maybe invitational sequences are for peasants after all.

Thanks to Al Blinder of Torrance CA for this one.