The Real Deal


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Black breaks

This deal was (mis)played in the 2017 Team Trials by a former world champion. Try your luck with his South cards:

♠ A K 8 6  J 5 2  —   ♣ A K J 10 5 2

At unfavorable vulnerability, he opened the bidding 1♣ in second seat. Left-hand opponent overcalled 1 and partner made a negative double promising both majors. RHO made a constructive diamond raise and opener jumped to 4♠. Everyone passed and the A was led:

North
♠ Q 10 7 2
Q 7 6 4
K 10 2
♣ 4 3
South
♠ A K 8 6
J 5 2
♣ A K J 10 5 2

Declarer ruffed the A, played the ♠A K, all following, and then a spade to the queen, RHO throwing a diamond. Now what?

A club was led to the jack and the finesse won. If you try the ♣A next, you are down. Here is the Real Deal:

Dlr:
East
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ Q 10 7 2
Q 7 6 4
K 10 2
♣ 4 3
West
♠ 5 4 3
K 10 9 8
A Q 9 8 5
♣ 8
East
♠ J 9
A 3
J 7 6 4 3
♣ Q 9 7 6
South
♠ A K 8 6
J 5 2
♣ A K J 10 5 2

After the A ruffed, declarer drew trumps. When a club to the jack held and the ♣A revealed the 4–1 break, there was no recovery. Remember that declarer ruffed at trick one, so he was out of trumps.

The winning solution was unusual. After the ♣J won, there was a 100 percent way to make the contract, assuming LHO didn’t sneakily duck the offside ♣Q. Declarer is left in this position:

North
♠ 10
Q 7 6 4
K 10
♣ 4
West
♠ —
K 10 9 8
Q 9 8 5
♣ —
East
♠ —
A 3
J 7 6
♣ Q 9 7
South
♠ —
J 5 2
♣ A K 10 5 2

Declarer wants to take another club finesse, but is stuck in hand. Laying down the ♣A (as we’ve seen) fails if clubs are 4–1. Leading hearts could lead to the loss of four hearts tricks, but not if done properly. Leading a low heart to the queen and East’s ace costs the loss of four heart tricks – East wins the ace and returns a heart. The sure way not to lose four heart tricks is, in the diagrammed position, to play a low heart from both hands. The J also will do, but it isn’t as obvious. Whatever the opponents do – even if they can take three heart tricks – they then have to give you access to a repeat club finesse and 10 tricks. On the actual layout, you’d end up with 11.