The Real Deal


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Vanishing spades

This deal was played in the 2015 Blue Ribbon Pairs in Denver. At unfavorable vulnerability, South held:

♠ A Q 5   J 10 8 5 3  Q 9   ♣ 10 6 2

His partner opened 1NT and East overcalled 3♣.

South bid 3 and West bid 3♠. North control-bid 4♣ and South signed off in 4. How would you play with a club lead?

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

If you lay down the A, West (yes West!) shows out.

With East having all the clubs (and a natural heart trick), prospects look bleak. Likely the spades are wrong.

After the shock of the 3–0 heart break, let’s say you play a low diamond from dummy. East takes the king – that’s good – and cashes a high club, his partner following suit, completing a high-low. East then plays the ♠2, and here’s your position:

North
♠ 10 9 6
K 9 7 6
A 8
♣ —
South
♠ A Q 5
J 10 8 5
Q
♣ 10

You’ve lost two tricks and have to lose the Q. One of your low spades can go on the A, so it seems you have to finesse your ♠Q to make the contract. Based on the bidding and play, the finesse is sure to lose. But if RHO has a singleton spade, you could be in business. Watch.

You win the ♠A and cash the Q. Ruff a club in dummy – LHO discards – and cash the A to throw a spade. (RHO follows to the diamond.) Now, play the K and another heart to endplay East. He has only clubs left, and on his club play, you throw your ♠Q and ruff in dummy. Here is the Real Deal:

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

With all four hands in view, follow the play and watch how South lost no spade tricks! The first two tricks were taken by dummy’s ♣A and A. Declarer was careful not to play a second high heart. If he had done so, East would have cashed his Q when in, thwarting the endplay. Declarer’s low diamond was taken by East’s K. East cashed a high club and played his spade. Declarer won the ace, cashed the Q, ruffed a club and discarded a spade on the A. The K and a heart put East on play for a ruff and sluff. Declarer lost only one club, one diamond and the Q for a beautiful plus 620.