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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

YOUR 12 TRICKS ARE?

You have reached a reasonable but slightly pushy 6 spade contract and your bidding has telegraphed to your opponents that a trump lead is a good idea. So, that’s what you got…and now is the time to decide how you are going to play the board, before you play a card to trick one.

So, take a breath and start planning.

South Deals
None Vul
K Q J 4
K Q 4 2
A 8 7 3
9
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A 5 3 2
K Q 10 5
A 8 7 3 2
West North East South
  Dummy   You
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

2Diamond-small was 4th suit forcing (only natural by chance) with 3Diamond-small showing four diamonds. However, 3Spade-small agreed spades as trumps and after a 4Club-small cue bid (the ace), North asked for key-cards, and bid the slam when South showed two. South was marked with 4 spades, 4 diamonds and at least 4 clubs, hence the possibility of ruffing hearts in the South hand….and therefore the trump lead.

The lead was Spade-small7. Assuming diamonds break, you have four tricks in that suit, Club-smallA and can set up one in hearts by playing Heart-smallK. That means you need 6 trump tricks, unless you set up clubs which may not be easy, as you would be ruffing with some high trumps. So, ruffing a couple of small hearts in your own hand seems a good idea. Yet, there’s the problem of communications.

Hurry up…the defenders are getting agitated! To ruff two hearts, you need three entries to dummy, including one to draw trumps afterwards. You do not want ruff a club as you will need most of dummy’s high trumps to draw trumps…actually all three..and you cannot afford a club and a heart loser  That’s the key. Your three entries must be two in trumps and a diamond. Thus, the Spade-smallA must be used for a heart ruff.

So, where do you win trick 1? In dummy.  Time to play.

South Deals
None Vul
K Q J 4
K Q 4 2
A 8 7 3
9
9 7
A 10 9 5
6 4 2
Q J 5 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 8 6
J 8 7 6 3
J 9
K 10 6
 
A 5 3 2
K Q 10 5
A 8 7 3 2

 

Win Spade-smallK and ruff a heart low. Play a second trump to dummy and ruff a second low trump with Spade-smallA. A diamond to dummy’s ace and play Spade-smallQ drawing their last trump. Now play Heart-smallK and give them the Heart-smallA. You still have one trump left in dummy and can even cater for East having Diamond-smallJxxx…but not today, friendly suit breaks and your slam is made. Partly down to good planning before you played a card to trick 1.

Thanks to Brad Johnston for submitting this board which was played in the recent VCC Swiss Pairs in Melbourne.

Richard Solomon

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