Test Your Play

1. IMPs

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

After you open 1, jump shift to 3♣ and later cuebid spades after partner gives you a delayed diamond preference, you wind up in 6.

West leads a trump. You win the queen, cash the ♣A and ruff a club, return to your hand with the ♠A and draw trumps (which are 3–3), discarding two hearts from dummy. Plan your play from here, allowing for 5–2 clubs.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

Concede a club, discarding a third heart from dummy. If both follow (63%), claim. If West turns up with five clubs and is 3=2 or 2=3 in the majors, East is sitting in back of the spade threat. If he has the K as well, he is sitting in back of the heart threat, too. Against that layout, there will be no squeeze against best defense.

If East has five clubs, squeeze possibilities improve considerably. After conceding a club, West discarding a heart, East does best to return a club, forcing a discard from dummy that then has the ♠K x x and the A Q x, West discarding a second heart. It appears that West is either hanging on to four spades with a 4=4=3=2 pattern, or he has a 3=5=3=2 pattern, in which case he would also discard two hearts. It may look right to discard a spade and play the A and ruff a heart playing West for the more likely 4=4=3=2 pattern, but it is not. You will see why in a moment.

Say you discard a heart, cross to the ♠K, ruff a spade and lead your last diamond, reducing to this position:

Dlr:
South
Vul:
Both
North
♠ 6
A Q
♣ –
South
♠ –
10
J
♣ 7

If West has the odd spade (the reason you didn’t discard a spade and try to set up hearts), you have a double squeeze. West has a spade and two hearts, and East a club and two hearts: West has to discard a heart on your last trump, so you discard dummy’s last spade. East with a high club and two hearts also has to discard a heart. Hearts are now 1–1, and your ace will pick up the suit.

If East has the long spade, West is down to three hearts, so then the finesse is odds on, West having started with five hearts, East one. A great player like you will read the position.

When you duck a club at trick seven, say East exits a spade instead of a club, West playing the queen. Win the king, ruff a spade, and assuming both follow, play your last trump and lead a heart. If West follows low, you are facing the same dilemma. If East has the odd spade, take the heart finesse, as East started with a 4=1=3=5 pattern. If West has the odd spade, go up with the ace and drop East’s stiff king.

Thanks to Martin Girard, Saint Tereste QC, for this one.

2. Matchpoints

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

West leads the 7, East playing the 9. Plan the play. Clubs are not 4–0.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION

What’s the problem? You have five clubs, three hearts and one diamond. Not really. If clubs are 2–2, yes, you do have five club tricks, but what if they are 3–1? Have you noticed that the clubs are blocked if they are 3–1 and that you have no return entry to your hand once the A has been knocked out?

In order to overcome the block, you must somehow discard one of dummy’s low clubs, allowing you to run five club tricks in peace.

Well, there’s only one place to discard one of those $#&*^ clubs, and it’s on the A! What you have to do is duck the first three rounds of diamonds, leaving yourself with the bare ace. If East plays a fourth diamond, discard a club on the A and take nine tricks. If East does not play a fourth diamond, shifting instead to a heart, win the heart in dummy (nice play), and now the ♣A Q and a club to the king. Discard dummy’s remaining club on the A, liberating your two remaining baby clubs for nine tricks in all.

If East does not continue diamonds after winning the first two tricks and shifts to a heart, you no longer have to worry about the clubs being blocked. You can cash four club tricks, ending in dummy, and return to your hand with the A to cash the fifth club.