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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

Taking Advantage of the 5-3 Trump Fit.

We found our way with a little exploration to 4H, a fair looking 5-3 trump fit. Let’s see how we can not just make our contract but even maybe an overtrick. South led a spade with North following to trick 1.

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

We have a few initial problems, with possibly two trump losers, one certain diamond loser and a club finesse to take. Although we would like to ruff one diamond in dummy before we draw trumps, it would be better to lead diamonds from the West hand so that if the ace is with North, we should always score a trick with Diamond-smallK.

So, at trick 2, we play Club-smallJ. The finesse appears to work as the jack holds the trick. Next we try a second club to the queen which also wins. Let’s play that Diamond-smallJ which North takes with the ace to return a second spade.

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

 

Our king wins and we ruff a diamond (save the Diamond-smallK for later…safer to ruff before you cash the king.). We have one losing diamond left in our hand and we throw that successfully on the Spade-smallQ. With just trumps and the Diamond-smallK left in our hand, we play a trump.

Normally it will not matter which, though by playing the low trump, we could take a finesse by inserting Heart-small10 from our hand. If we lead Heart-smallK, we are relying on the Heart-smallJ to fall in two rounds. As you can see, leading the low heart is more successful and you can draw trumps for just the loss of the ace, no matter when North takes that card. Making 11 tricks, a great score on the board. Even making 10 tricks would be better than playing in 3NT.

In 3NT, on the likely diamond lead, East is in trouble. With only one diamond and three spade tricks, a declarer must either hope that the opponents both have 4 diamonds…and even then, take a successful finesse of the Heart-smallJ to make just 9 tricks. As you can see above, all these good things do happen but even so, a declarer can still get a better score by making 10 or 11 tricks in a heart contract, which made doing that investigation for a possible 5-3 heart fit during the bidding so worthwhile.

Richard Solomon

(apologies that this is published a day later than promised.)

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