The Real Deal


www.larryco.combridgecruises_lessons@larryco.com

Justifying partner’s faith

This deal comes from my newest source for material – an online money game. With both sides vulnerable, IMP scoring, I held:

♠ J 6 5   Q 10 5 2   A Q 6  ♣ A 9 7

I dealt and opened 1♣ and partner responded 1♠. I rebid 1NT and he raised to 3NT. Left-hand opponent led the 6 and I saw:

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

Partner has taken the high road with his 11 high-card points facing, potentially, a 12-point hand. No doubt he loved the club fit and source of tricks. Now he has put his faith in you.

You have only five top tricks – three diamonds and two clubs. RHO wins the K and returns the J. That gives you a heart trick to get up to six tricks. What is the plan? If you play the Q, LHO wins the ace and plays another heart. Should you work on clubs or spades?

Those who know me will recognize the trick question. If you cover the J, you are on your way to down one. Why shouldn’t you cover?

First of all, can we agree that working on clubs is the wrong plan? Barring a miracle in that suit, you will have to give up a club trick. The defense will have a club, the ♠A and at least three heart tricks, even if they are 4–4. So, you will have to work on spades.

Once you knock out the ♠A, you will have three spades to go with three diamonds, two clubs and the heart trick. The danger is that the defense takes four heart tricks and the ♠A.

If hearts are 4–4, you will have no trouble. If, however, opening leader has five hearts and the ♠A, you have no chance. What if hearts are 5–3 and RHO has the ♠A? When you cover the J, LHO will duck! When RHO gets in with the ♠A, he will play another heart through you. Can you prevent this?

Yes! Don’t cover with your Q at trick two. Now what? East plays another heart; for all he knows, his partner started with A 10 x x x, and West wins. Look at the full deal:

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

As you can see, covering the heart leads to defeat. West can duck and then what? East gets in with the ♠A to play his final heart through you. You lose four hearts and a spade for down one. If you don’t cover the J, you are home free. The defense gets only three hearts and a spade. You have justified your partner’s optimistic jump to 3NT.