6-5 come alive
This deal was played in the 2016 Southeastern Regional in Florida. East held:
♠ Q 9 8 5 3 ♥ 8 3 ♦ Q 9 5 ♣ A J 3
In a knockout match with both sides vulnerable, West, his partner, dealt and opened 4♥. This was followed by two passes, then 5♥ by LHO!
What’s that? Presumably spades and a minor – a high-level Michaels bid. Right-hand opponent bid 5NT (pick a minor) and LHO chose 6♣. With spades and clubs well controlled, combined with partner’s vulnerable four-level opening, East chose to double.
The ♥K was led and East saw:
Declarer won the ♥A and cashed the ♦A (partner playing low). Next came a low club, partner throwing a heart. Dummy plays the queen and it is up to you.
Suppose you win the ♣A. What next? From the bidding and play, you know everyone’s cards. Declarer must have five spades and six clubs and the two singleton aces in the red suits. Because we are now playing double-dummy, let’s look at all four hands.
Did you figure out to return the ♣J? If you play a low club, declarer has a marked finesse and can win in dummy with the ♣8.
He would have only two trumps left in dummy, but could make his contract by running the ♠J for a finesse. He would then have to ruff only two spades in dummy. Would he play this way? Maybe. The 4♥ opening, combined with the trump return, could point the way.
Why give him the chance? If you return the ♣J, he has to win in his hand. Then he can take the ace and king of spades and ruff two spades in dummy, but will have to lose a spade trick at the end.
The ♣J is sure to set the contract, but maybe you are wondering why you have to play any trump? Look what happens if you play anything else. If you lead from the ♠Q, declarer can finesse. If you lead a red suit, he ruffs in his hand, cashes the high spades and has a complete crossruff for 12 tricks.
At the other table, South didn’t come alive with his 6–5. He overcalled 4♠ and went down three tricks for minus 300.