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Play and Defend Better: for improving players 2

ONE EXTRA CHANCE

“All I wanted was an even trump break and I would have had a claim” exclaimed the declarer as another slam bit the dust. While that comment was true, the declarer did not give himself that one extra chance of making his contract:

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

 

After partner’s weak no-trump opening, South made a slam try in hearts. North co-operated by cue-bidding (first or second round control) 4Club-small. Although a club control was not ideal for South with their void, they continued with a cue of their own (4Diamond-small) and one more try with the cue of 4Spade-small. That was all the encouragement North needed and within seconds, West had the Club-smallK on the table against 6Heart-small.

South won and played two rounds of trumps but West discarded a club on the second round. This slam would still make if diamonds broke 3-3 or one defender held singleton or doubleton Diamond-smallJ. So, declarer drew the last trump and tested diamonds…but East turned up with Diamond-small J986. Not South’s day? True, but there was one extra chance. Your play?

This extra play still enables you to play for all the above lay-outs but may also succeed when diamonds break as above.

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

 

As in a number of play hands, the successful line was to draw only two rounds of trumps before playing on diamonds. If the Diamond-smallJ appears or the suit breaks 3-3, you can then draw the remaining trump and claim. If the defender with the remaining trump has only a doubleton diamond, they can ruff the third round to defeat your contract…but in drawing three rounds of trumps, you were going down any way.

However, there is also the chance that the defender with the last trump has the four-card diamond suit…in which case you can safely ruff the last diamond, return to hand to draw the last trump and claim.

So, not getting that coveted 2-2 trump break did not matter. The slam could still be made. While on some days where West had the 4-card diamond suit along with Club-smallKQ, a squeeze can be executed on West (not this day), the above simple successful line rewarded any declarer who bid to this good slam.

Richard Solomon

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