The Real Deal


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An expert should get it right

This deal was (mis)played in the finals of the 2018 U.S. Bridge Championship. South held:

♠A K Q 8 7 4   9 3  Q 3  ♣A 8 5

With nobody vulnerable, his partner passed and right-hand opponent opened a weak 2. I’d be fine with a 3♠ overcall (showing an intermediate hand like this and a good six-plus card spade suit). However, at the table, 2♠ was chosen. LHO raised to 4; and partner’s 4♠ bought the contract.

The A was led:

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

The defense played the A K and another diamond, ruffed and overruffed. Declarer drew trumps, finding the 2 bidder started with all three of them. Now what?

He needed to lose only one club trick and also discard a heart on dummy’s clubs. Hoping for a 3–3 break with the king on his left, declarer played the ♣A and another club. The Real Deal:

Dlr:
North
Vul:
None
North
♠ J 10 6 2
A 6
J 7 5
♣ Q 9 7 3
West
♠ —
Q 5 2
A K 9 8 4 2
♣ J 10 6 2
East
♠ 9 5 3
K J 10 8 7 4
10 6
♣ K 4
South
♠ A K Q 8 7 4
9 3
Q 3
♣ A 8 5

West correctly played low on the second club; splitting his honors could have proved disastrous. Declarer could try dummy’s ♣Q (resulting in down two), but he guessed to play low. He was down one: East took the ♣K and the defense still had to get a heart trick.

So, how could declarer have made it? The bidding and play marked East with 3=6=2=2 shape (he opened a weak two-bid in hearts and showed up with three spades and two diamonds). Knowing East had only two clubs, the right play is clear. Go to dummy and lead a club to the 8! This intrafinesse wins the contract. West wins this trick, but later the ♣A drops the king, and a marked finesse in clubs allows declarer to throw his heart on the fourth club for plus 420.

Note that the defense could have prevailed with a heart shift at trick two.