The Real Deal


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What’s going on here?

This deal was played at the Livingston Bridge Studio in New Jersey and reported to me by Jesse Reisman, one of the club’s proprietors. South held hese cards:

♠ A 4 2   A K 2  A K Q    ♣ 4 3 2

He opened 2NT and partner bid 3♣, Stayman. South answered 3 and partner signed off in 3NT. However, the auction wasn’t over. After two passes, LHO doubled! What’s this all about? The most likely reason for the double is that West expects to run a suit. He probably has solid clubs. Let’s get out of here!

South ran to 4, raised to 5 by North. Nobody doubled this time. No surprise, West leads a top club
and you see:

♠ K J 7 6
Q 10 8 6
8 7 2
♣ 7 5

♠ A 4 2
A K 2
A K Q 9
♣ 4 3 2

After two top clubs (East playing high–low), West plays another high club. What is your plan?

Surely you will ruff in dummy, and it can’t hurt to ruff high (don’t carelessly call for the deuce). In fact, when you ruff with the 8, it proves to be high enough. East thinks long and hard, and … underruffs! What is going on?

It seems that West must have the &diams:J–10, and as long as he doesn’t have four of them, you will be able to pick up the trumps. What about the majors? It seems East didn’t want to discard in either major. Rather than part with a major-suit card, he has “discarded” a low trump. This seems to indicate that East can “stop” both majors.

For now, you might as well draw trumps, and as hoped for, West started with only J–10–4. On the third round of trumps you throw a spade from dummy, and this time East must discard. He throws a low spade. Now what? This is the remaining position:

♠ K J 7
Q 10 8 6

♣ —

♠ A 4 2
A K 2
9
♣ —

It feels as if East has come down to four hearts and three spades. In that case, do you see a sure way to make your contract?

Lead the last trump and discard a low spade from dummy. What will East do? If he throws a heart, the hearts are good. If he throws a spade, your ♠2 will score the game-going trick. This was the Real Deal:

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

After doubling 3NT and hearing North–South escape (maybe West won’t be so greedy next time?), West led three top clubs. Declarer carefully ruffed with the 8 and East postponed the agony by underruffing. After South played off the top trumps, East had no way out. It turns out that West can defeat 5 if he doesn’t lead clubs (who couldn’t?), but his actual defense would have worked fine if East had the decency to hold the 9.