Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

West leads the ♠J. You win the king and lead a low club to the king and 10. Now what?

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In order to maximize your chances, cash the A and lead a low diamond to the jack. If diamonds are 3–2 and the jack wins, you have 12 tricks with a possible chance of 13 if the ♣Q drops.

If diamonds are 3–2 and the finesse loses, your best chance in clubs for the needed three tricks is to hope the ♣Q is doubleton. This is better than leading the jack and hoping the 10–9 is doubleton. If, when you cash the A and lead a low diamond to the jack, you discover that East had Q x x x or West had the singleton queen, do not cash a third diamond, but rather make a safety play in clubs to ensure the then-needed four club tricks. The safety play is to lead a low club from your hand and, if West plays low, stick in the 7. If it loses, clubs have broken 3–2 and you have four tricks. If West plays the 9, win the ace and lead the 7 and drive out the queen. Four tricks. Finally, if West shows out, rise with the ace and lead low to the jack. Again, four club tricks.

Thanks to Phil King of London, England, for this neat deal and accompanying analysis.

2. Matchpoints

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

After you open 1NT as South, a Stayman sequence lands you in 6NT.

West leads the 6. Plan the play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

If clubs come in for five tricks, you have 12 tricks, needing only two spade tricks. If clubs do not come in for five tricks, you need four spade tricks, which may mean taking two finesses.

The key play is a low diamond from dummy at trick two. If East has the A, he will surely play low: It can’t be right to play the ace, as it gives you two diamond tricks, meaning you need only one spade finesse, not to mention opening the door to squeeze possibilities if clubs don’t break.

If the king wins, test clubs. If they come in for five tricks you have 12 winners: five clubs, four hearts, two spades and a diamond. If they don’t, you have the wherewithal to take two spade finesses with club and heart dummy entries.

If the K loses to the ace, win the diamond return (as good as anything), and test clubs. If they don’t divide 3–3, take two spade finesses.

The advantage of leading a diamond towards the king rather than towards dummy’s queen is that if the king loses, you still have the two necessary dummy entries to take two spade finesses if the clubs don’t come in. If you lead a diamond toward the queen and it loses and a spade comes back, you have to decide what to do in spades before testing clubs.

This deal is from the 2013 Canadian National Seniors Pairs.