Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

(1) RKCB 1430.
(2) Zero key cards.

West leads the 5, East follows with the jack. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

This is a “Take All Your Chances” deal. You have two chances to land this slam: (1) ruffing out the K; (2) leading up the ♣K if the K doesn’t ruff out.

Win the K, cash the A, cross to the Q and ruff a diamond. If no king appears, cash the ♠A, ruff a spade, and ruff a second diamond. If no king appears, ruff another high spade and lead up to the ♣K. If West plays the jack after you ruff the first diamond, ruff a spade and lead the Q, hoping to entice East to cover if he has the K. If he plays low, ruff the diamond as you don’t want to give up on West having K–J–x or the ♣A onside. Giving yourself chances in both clubs and diamonds gives you a tad more than a 60% chance of success.

2.IMPs

Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ J 4
6 3 2
J 7 4 3
♣ J 9 7 4
South
♠ A 8
A Q 10
A K
♣ A K Q 10 8 3
WEst North East South
2♠(1) Pass 4♠ 6♣
All Pass

(1) Weak.

West leads the ♠K, East follows with the 2. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

The idea is to avoid the heart finesse, if possible. If the Q drops singleton, doubleton or third (about 36.5%), you won’t need the heart finesse at all. The spade throw-in plus the heart discard on the J will do the trick.

Problems arise when the Q doesn’t fall. Getting a count on the West hand helps, however, and the fewer hearts the better.

Win the ♠A, cash the A K, paying off to a singleton diamond with West As you will see, entry considerations favor not cashing a high club first; however, assume the first time you do lead a trump, both follow. We will consider 3–0 trumps later.

Say no queen falls under the A K. Cross to the ♣J using your 10 and ruff a diamond high. If the queen drops, enter dummy with a trump, pitch a heart on the J and exit a spade. You now have a claim.

If the queen doesn’t drop third and West follows to the third diamond, enter dummy with the ♣9, ruff dummy’s last diamond, giving you a complete count on the layout.

Once you have a complete count, the number of hearts West has is crucial. If West started with three or more hearts, you must find East with the K J and take the deep finesse after drawing trumps and exiting a spade. If West started with fewer than three hearts, draw trumps ending in dummy, lead a heart to the queen, cash the A and exit a spade, forcing a ruff-and-sluff return.

If West shows out on the first club (unlikely), you are still alive if the Q is doubleton or third as the throw-in after drawing trumps and discarding a heart on the J still works. If it doesn’t drop and West has three or more hearts, you know what you need to do.

After you cash the A K, both following low, cross to the ♣J and say East shows out. Ruff a diamond and say West shows out. You have a count on the hand. West started with a 6=2=2=3 pattern. If West follows to the third diamond, he either has a singleton or void heart. Same story: Once West has fewer than three hearts, draw trumps ending in dummy, heart to the queen, A, spade. Voila.