The Real Deal


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The timing was off

For the fourth week in a row, we visit the 2018 U.S. Team Trials. And, for the fourth week in a row, an expert’s mistake cost big time. South held:

♠ J 5   7 6 5 3 2  10  ♣K Q J 8 3

Both vulnerable, his partner dealt and opened 1. His right-hand opponent doubled, and he chose an interesting 2♣. With the takeout doubler usually having hearts, I kind of like this off-beat action. You’ll like it too when LHO bids 2(!) and your partner jumps to 5♣. RHO doubles and you play it there with a low spade lead:

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

RHO wins the ♠K and shifts to the ♣6. Declarer ran this to dummy’s 9 and led a second spade. East won and forced dummy with a heart. Declarer (belatedly) played the A and a low diamond (the king falling from East). He crossed to the ♣A, West showing out, to leave:

North
♠ Q
Q 6 4 3
♣ 5
South
♠ —
7 6 5 3
♣ K Q

If everyone had followed on the second club, all would be good. Declarer would ruff a diamond in hand and dummy would be high (with the ♣5 as an entry via a heart ruff ). However, East still had the ♣10. The diamonds weren’t established – West still had two remaining. Declarer ended up down two. This was the Real Deal:

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

Let’s review the play. A spade was led to the king (double dummy, only a trump lead sets the contract). The trump return went to dummy’s 9, but declarer erred by playing a second spade. This allowed East to win and prematurely tap dummy.

At trick three, declarer should work on diamonds. The A and a diamond ruff are followed by drawing trump, ending in dummy. The difference is that in this version, trumps are all drawn and dummy still has a trump remaining. Declarer sets up the diamonds with a ruff and then plays the ♠J. East wins, but dummy is high, and still has a trump.