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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

WHICH ROUTE TO TAKE?

We left you to play a rather awkward 3NT contract, only 24 high card points between our two hands and no good fit. Can we make 9 tricks? What’s our planning like?

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

 

The Planning…

West has led a spade (Spade-small6). We will have one trick in that suit. We have two top tricks in both hearts and clubs with the possibility of more if finesses in those suits work, and Diamond-smallA again with chances of developing more tricks in that suit. That’s 6 certain tricks. We need three more.

Go for hearts. If the heart finesse works and hearts are 3-3, we will have 9 tricks without any further risks. If we try the club finesse and that works, we  will still only have 8 tricks and will still need to take the heart finesse.

Not Diamonds. We cannot set up more than one trick in diamonds without losing the lead. If we lose the lead, there is the danger (not in this case a great danger…see below) of losing 4 spade tricks and the diamond.

Also, if East were to cover the Diamond-smallJ with either the queen or the king, we would have to duck as we lack any entry outside diamonds to get back to the South hand. The diamond play would only work if East held specifically Diamond-small KQ doubleton or KQx…worse odds than a heart finesse.

The Danger. As stated above, the danger is of losing a trick to the Heart-smallQ or Club-smallQ and see the defence take 4 spade tricks as well. However, since East made a take-out double, there is a much greater chance than normal that they have 4 spades as they may have overcalled with five.

More Worries     worried man.jpg

One other disturbing point is that East’s take-out double makes it more likely they will hold any missing honours. It would not, however, be any use playing to drop the Heart-smallQ in two rounds in East’s hand as West would have a deeper heart trick to take.  

Thus, there is no better plan than taking the heart finesse.

Off we go….

The Play…

We win trick 1 with the Spade-smallQ (it looks like East holds Spade-smallAK) and play Heart-smallJ. West plays low but East wins with Heart-smallQ….and cashes Spade-smallAK7. The good news is spades broke 4-4. Which cards do we throw on the last two spades from our hand and dummy?

From our South hand it is easy… a diamond. Two discards from dummy. We realise now that we will have to take that club finesse and hope it works. We cannot rely on diamonds.

So, we throw one diamond and surprisingly a little heart since are club suit is solid down to the 9 (apart from the queen!). On a really bad day, Heart-small3 will not be a winner.

Let’s look at all four hands:

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

 

East retained the lead as West played the Spade-small9 under the ace. East exited a safe heart. We won, crossed to the Diamond-smallA and played Club-smallJ. It held the trick!

Wonderful. We continued clubs and made one spade, three hearts, one diamond and four club tricks.

Game made. No sweat! Well, not much!

Richard Solomon

 

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