The Real Deal


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Handling a 4-2 trump split

This deal was played in the 2018 World Championships. A 4–2 split, you wonder? That means our trump fit was only seven cards? I suppose so. In the round of eight in the knockout teams, South held:

♠K 5   A J 7 5  10 8  ♣J 10 8 3

White against red, his partner opened 1NT and he responded 2, a transfer to hearts. Left-hand opponent doubled and this was passed around to him. Opener’s refusal to accept the transfer would typically mean he has only two hearts. South tried 3♣ (forcing) and opener bid 3. What’s that? Not clear for now, but without a diamond stopper, South bid 3, raised to 4. The ♣4 was led.

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

Partner might have tried 3NT– we’ll see later how that would have fared.

East wins the club lead and returns a club, ruffed low by West. West plays the A and the Q, which you win in dummy. Needing the rest, you lead the Q for a finesse. It wins, West following with the 8. On the 10, East covers with the king to your ace and West throws a diamond to leave:

North
♠ A Q J 9
5
♣ K Q
South
♠ K 5
J 7 5
♣ J 10

East remains with 9 6, but careful handling picks up the suit. Knowing the clubs will cash, you take both of them and then ruff a diamond. This reduces you to the same number of trumps as East. Then, you play the ♠K and a spade to dummy. If East started with a singleton spade (1=4=4=4), you will be down, but this is unlikely. In fact, the full deal is shown below. With the lead in dummy at trick 12, you lead a spade and have your J 7 over East’s 9 6. You lost the first three tricks, but rallied to win the remaining 10.

Dlr:
East
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ A Q J 9
Q 10
K 5 4
♣ K Q 6 2
West
♠ 10 8 4 3 2
8 3
A Q J 9 6
♣ 44
East
♠ 7 6
K 9 6 2
7 3 2
♣ A 9 7 5
South
♠ K 5
A J 7 5 4
10 8
♣ J 10 8 3

So, what about 3NT by North? After a diamond to the jack (ducked) and the Q continuation, declarer would have to win the K. If he tried to knock out the ♣A – hoping diamonds were 6–2 with the ♣A with the doubleton – he’d swiftly be defeated. If, instead, he advanced the Q, he’d have three hearts, four spades and a diamond. Still, 3NT is down one on the Real Deal. Well bid and well played for plus 420.