The Real Deal


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8-4 bid some more

This deal was played in the South Florida Bridge/Golf Players IMP Game. South held:

♠Q J 8 6   4   A K J 10 9 7 6 4   ♣—

With both sides vulnerable, he opened 1 and partner responded 1. Now what?

Both players went with the tried-and-true concept of getting in that four-card major, so they rebid 1♠. The eight-card diamond suit is jumping out at me, but I suppose I understand
1♠. Partner now bids 2♣, fourth suit forcing to game. It’s time to rebid the diamonds, and both players in the team match bid only 2. I think 3 is more to the point.

I’ll spare the details of the rest of the auction (frankly, because I wasn’t told them!), but one table reached 5 and the other played in 6. Both received the ♣Q lead and this was the layout:

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

As you can see, 5 doesn’t present much of a challenge, so let’s take the helm in 6.

The percentage play with nine cards in a suit missing the queen is to lay down the ace–king (“nine never”). If the Q falls, you have 12 top tricks. A good declarer ponders: “If diamonds come in, there is nothing to worry about, so what should I do in case I have a diamond loser?”

One option is the ♠K onside. Is there anything else? Set up hearts? There don’t seem to be enough dummy entries for that. A squeeze, perhaps?

Declarer won the ♣A and discarded a spade. Next came the top diamonds, which were 3–1 (East had Q 8 3). Now what?

Declarer floundered around a bit, and eventually took a spade finesse for down one. This was the Real Deal:

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

Can you spot the winning line?

No, don’t tell me you would have taken the anti-percentage diamond finesse. Declarer’s error (as so often happens) was at trick one. Winning the ♣A was a mistake. Declarer should play low from dummy at trick one and ruff the club. Now come the top diamonds, getting the bad news. However, declarer does not have to rely strictly on the spade finesse. He can take advantage of a 4–3 heart break. He plays the A K and ruffs a heart. Now he plays his losing diamond to East. Game over.

The play of a spade by East presents the 12th trick immediately. A fourth heart sets up dummy’s long heart. So, East has to play a club — which revives the dummy.

Declarer wins the ace, ruffs the fourth round of hearts and still has the ♠A to get back to the fifth heart. Winning the ♣A at trick one prematurely removed dummy’s late entry for setting up the hearts.