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Six Problems for a Rainy Thursday

 New Year's Quiz

Are you craving for your first game of Bridge of the year? Maybe you have played a few hands already? Surely here in New Zealand we can lay claim to the first making contract, probably the first non-making contract too, of the New Year?

Any nominations?

Whether you are looking, itching for a pack of cards or are pawing over the hand record, try the following problems.

THE SIX PROBLEMS

  1. Let’s start the year with a defensive problem. A lively auction, a fairly obvious opening lead…but what next? You are West:
Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
7 3
9 3 2
K Q J 6 5
K J 8
A K 8 5
6 5
9 7 3
Q 6 5 4
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
You Dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 
Pass 2  Dbl 3 
3  4  All pass  

 

You lead a top spade on which your partner plays Spade-smallQ and declarer Spade-small4. What do you play to trick 2?

  1. Now to the bidding. You are playing Pairs and the opposition only are vulnerable. It will soon be your turn to bid for the second time. You are North:
 
A Q
K 7 5 4
K J 5 4
A 4 2
West North East South
Pass 1  2  3 
3   ?    

East’s 2Spade-small was a weak jump and South’s 3Heart-small was forcing. What now?

  1. Still Pairs and the opposition are still pretty lively. You are West and as in the first question above have a pretty safe opening lead…but to trick 2?
North Deals
Both Vul
Q 9 8 3
5
J 8 6 3 2
Q 6 4
K J 7
A K Q J 7
4
K 10 9 3
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
you dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 
Dbl Pass 1  1 NT
2  3  3  5 
Pass Pass Dbl All pass

 You lead the Heart-smallK to try to score some tricks, for your partner to give count in hearts (“king for count”) and get Heart-small2 from your partner and Heart-small3 from declarer. What now?

  1. Short but how sweet? This is the auction to your 4Spade-small contract.

West          North                   East            South

                                                4Club-small               4Spade-small

All Pass

 
East Deals
Both Vul
J 7 5
7 2
Q J 10 5 2
J 6 4
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K 8 6 4 2
K J
A 4
K 8 2

4Club-small needs explaining as it shows at least 6 clubs and 5 hearts and about 7-10 high card points. West leads the Spade-small3 and you can see a kind of plan of giving up a trick to the Diamond-smallK and hope to lose only one trick in hearts and in clubs. There is, though, the little question of the Spade-smallQ. If you play Spade-smallJ at trick one, you could lose a spade unnecessarily.

So the first question. Your play to trick 1?

Although it seems the Spade-smallQ should be on your left, leading from Spade-smallQxx seems unusual. If West has all 4 missing spades, your play is irrelevant as you will lose a trump trick. So, play low from dummy. You are rewarded as East plays the Spade-smallQ. You win, play a second high spade on which East discards a low club.

You need an entry to dummy. So, leaving one trump out, you play Diamond-smallA on which East discards another little club. You play your little diamond but West just covers with Diamond-small6 and you win in dummy (heart discard from East). You play Diamond-smallQ (another club from East) and throw your Club-small2. West wins and continues diamonds.

Finally the question! Which card do you discard now on the Diamond-smallJ…the only high diamond left in dummy?

You have left in your hand (along with some trumps) Heart-smallKJ  Club-small K8?

  1. Finally, we have two 6NT contracts for you to play. Often, 6NT is either an easy or an impossible contract. These two fit somewhere between !
South Deals
E-W Vul
A
8
A K Q J 8 7 6 5
Q 9 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 10 7
A J 4
9 3
A 10 8 7 5
West North East South
      1 NT
Pass 4  Pass 4 
Pass 6 NT All pass  

 

After you opened your 11 hcp weak 1NT, your partner checked for aces and put you to slam. When West led a low spade, it looked like the wrong slam. You win and cash dummy’s long suit. West throws three little spades, one little heart and two little clubs. East, who shows a liking for hearts, throws two small spades, four small hearts and one small club.

  1. Which six cards do you throw?
  2. Play on after the 8 diamonds have been played.

 

6.

South Deals
E-W Vul
A K 7 3
10 9 7 4 3
A 3
K 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 8
A Q 6
K Q 8 7 6
A 7 2
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3  Pass 3 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 6 NT All pass  

 

2NT showed 17-18 and 3Club-small asked about South’s majors. 3Heart-small showed 3 hearts and less than 4 spades. 5Spade-small showed 2 key cards in hearts plus Heart-smallQ.

West led Club-smallQ. Plan the play.

THE SIX SOLUTIONS

  1. A time to switch. Partner’s Spade-smallQ indicated holding the jack… but if you continued with any spade, the defence was over.
Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
7 3
9 3 2
K Q J 6 5
K J 8
A K 8 5
6 5
9 7 3
Q 6 5 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q J 9 2
K 10 4
10
A 10 7 3 2
 
10 6 4
A Q J 8 7
A 8 4 2
9
West North East South
You Dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 
Pass 2  Dbl 3 
3  4  All pass  

 

It might be correct to play declarer for Diamond-smallA and give them an immediate guess in clubs hoping for two tricks in each black suit. Not today though East can win Club-smallA to find the diamond switch. However, the biidding tells you East is likely to be short in diamonds. Why not switch to one at trick 2?

Declarer wins in dummy and plays Heart-small9. East  covers with Heart-small10 and will either the score the Heart-smallK if declarer plays the ace on the second round, or score a ruff if declarer tries to enter dummy with a second diamond (or with a spade ruff…as long as you did not cash that second spade trick).

  1. Chasiing the match-points. You want all the match-points? Then forget the 5-4 heart fit and bid 3NT. These were the 4 hands:
West Deals
E-W Vul
A Q
K 7 5 4
K J 5 4
A 4 2
J 4
A 9 6
9 8 7 6
K J 6 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 10 8 7 6 5 2
2
3 2
10 9 7
 
9 3
Q J 10 8 3
A Q 10
Q 8 5
West North East South
Pass 1  2  3 
3  3 NT All pass  

 

4Heart-small can be made with a club eventually disappearing on the fourth round of diamonds (as long as declarer does not play Club-smallQ when East switches to Club-small10). Meanwhile, in 3NT, by losing a trick to the Heart-smallA, you will come to 10 tricks no matter whether or not a spade is led…a nice match-point score.

  1. Reading you loud and clear. You may have asked for count with your Heart-smallK lead but what was the message your partner was trying to give you with that Heart-small2 discard? If you were not an obedient partner and did not switch to a low club at trick 2, you would be writing down -750:
North Deals
Both Vul
Q 9 8 3
5
J 8 6 3 2
Q 6 4
K J 7
A K Q J 7
4
K 10 9 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 6 5 4 2
6 4 2
10
A J 5 2
 
A
10 9 8 3
A K Q 9 7 5
8 7
West North East South
you dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 
Dbl Pass 1  1 NT
2  3  3  5 
Pass Pass Dbl All pass

 

Firstly, with a singleton appearing, your partner may/should be giving you suit preference, not count..”low heart asking for the “lower non-trump suit.” Also, your partner must have had some reason for doubling. Which side- suit ace do they have?

If you failed to switch to a club, declarer ruffs out your Spade-smallK and discards one club on the Spade-smallQ, an ugly result for your side.

4. If they do not lead a suit, maybe they cannot! 

So, which discard did you make from Heart-smallKJ and Club-smallK8?  Your choice of discard comes down to trusting your opponent, West. They had two chances to lead a club but did not. Therefore, you can draw the inference they are void in that suit. Therefore, as you cannot be sure who holds the missing high hearts, throw Heart-smallJ and lead a club towards the king…and you will record a nice +420.

East Deals
Both Vul
J 7 5
7 2
Q J 10 5 2
J 6 4
10 9 3
A 6 5 4
K 9 8 7 6 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q
Q 10 9 8 3
A Q 10 9 7 5 3
 
A K 8 6 4 2
K J
A 4
K 8 2

 

  1. An elegant ending.   After all those discards, two spades including Spade-smallKJ, four hearts including Heart-smallKQ and Club-smallKJ remain in the defenders’ hands. You had to find 6 discards, one spade, two hearts and three clubs. Are the clubs 1-1? Seems unlikely. Therefore try for your best chance:
 
8
Q 9 2
K
Q
K J
 
N
W   E
S
 
J
K 10 9
 
Q
A
A 10

 

Exit dummy with the heart and play Spade-smallQ, holding your breath. West wins and plays Club-smallJ…          and you have 12 tricks!

Nicely played…but tell partner to bid 6Diamond-small next time. At least the play then is a little clearer!

  1. Dangerous Diamonds. An easier one with which to finish. Even though partner’s heart suit was a little disappointing, hearts was the suit to attack.
     
     
    South Deals
    E-W Vul
    A K 7 3
    10 9 7 4 3
    A 3
    K 3
    6 5 2
    J 5
    9 2
    Q J 10 8 6 4
     
    N
    W   E
    S
     
    J 10 9 4
    K 8 2
    J 10 5 4
    9 5
     
    Q 8
    A Q 6
    K Q 8 7 6
    A 7 2
    West North East South
          1 
    Pass 1  Pass 2 NT
    Pass 3  Pass 3 
    Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
    Pass 6 NT All pass  
                                                                                                                                               “D” stands for “diamonds” and also for “danger”. Even if diamonds broke 3-3, you still need a successful heart finesse for your contract. If the diamond break is any worse, you will need more than a successful heart finesse. Also, you have limited entries to dummy to play and enjoy the heart suit later. So, leave diamonds alone.

Two heart finesses have a 75% success rate. Come on, even with your poor track record finessing, that’s better than a 36% 3-3 diamond break! If the first heart finesse failed, the second one will work…and you will soon have 12 tricks…but only three of those come from the diamond suit.

So, happy Bridging...and finessing in 2018.

Riichard Solomon

p.s. if you played the recent Papatoetoe Chriistmas Pairs, you may recognise these hands even if you did not experience the problems.

 

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