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The Easy Way, The Obscure Way or One Down.

I have mentioned more than once that even playing Pairs, there is a lot of good sense in taking a line to ensure your contract and worry about possible overtricks later. They are certainly worth having, especially playing Pairs, but so is a 50% board which could so easily have been worse. 4Spade-small making 10 tricks below. Indeed, what you perceive as average may well be 70% anyway as some found a route to go negative, or played in part-score, or overbid to the 5 level. Let's see....

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

 

East’s 2Heart-small is a Weak Two, 6-card suit. You crawl to the spade game

West leads Heart-small10 to North’s Heart-smallK and continues with Heart-smallA (Heart-small8 from West), and then Heart-smallJ. Over to you.

One Down

Going negative in the above contract? That really should not happen but at least one South found a very easy way. They ruffed the third round of hearts with Spade-small7. However, West’s Spade-smallJ won the trick. West exited a passive trump with the losing club finesse providing the fourth trick for the defenders.

The Obscure Way

Our next declarer realised that the club finesse was likely to fail and that, therefore, they could not afford to suffer an overruff. They also realised that West was more likely to hold more spades than East, using the “Vacant Spaces” theory of East having six hearts to West’s two. These were the four hands:

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

 

However, they went about making their contract in a very dangerous manner. They ruffed the Heart-smallJ with the Spade-smallA and played a spade to the queen before taking a losing club finesse. West exited a low spade with declarer finessing successfully.

However, the 3-1 trump break meant that only one diamond could be ruffed in dummy. Therefore, back to hand with the Club-smallA and an immediate diamond finesse had to be taken. That was successful meaning that South could draw the last trump and eventually ruff just one diamond in the North hand and make 10 tricks.

the hard way to success!

That line involved taking three finesses, one of which was almost certain to fail (the club finesse). South was somewhat fortuitous to make 10 tricks.

ways to success.jpg

The Easy Way

There was a much simpler and safer way because it did not or might not involve taking any finesses! On the third round of hearts, South can discard the Club-smallQ. On some days, you might describe this as throwing away a winner but since East had announced to be holding a Weak 2, it was unlikely though still possible that they held Club-smallK as well as the HAKJ.

At trick 4, East played a club won by the ace. Now a spade to the king and Spade-smallQ. Had trumps broken 2-2, South could claim 10 tricks but now declarer had either to ruff two diamonds (unless a defender held Diamond-smallQTx) or take the diamond finesse immediately.

South decided to play Diamond-smallK ,a diamond to the ace, ruffed a diamond, ruffed a club and ruffed their last diamond. They could ruff another club back to hand before drawing the last trump and claiming.

Certainly, had West five clubs and only three diamonds, this line would have failed as the Spade-smallJ would have scored. However, it was much safer than either of the two lines above. Alternatively, only one finesse was required if South chose to take the diamond finesse. The Spade-smallJ was more likely to be in the East hand than the Diamond-smallQ, though either could have been as East was entitled to hold a 10 count.

“Loser on loser”….a good technique…much better than losing to the Spade-smallJ in the West hand or perhaps doubleton Spade-smallJ in the East hand. It would have been much easier to spot had South’s second club been a smaller card than the queen.

Proving North Wrong

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

 

You chance a 3Spade-small call, perhaps to suggest a sacrifice but the only taker, a little surprisingly in view of dummy, was North who decided that a making game was a better option than doubling 3Spade-small. Your aim is to prove North wrong by beating 4Heart-small.

You lead Spade-smallK with your partner playing Spade-small2, an even number. Over to you?

See you on Saturday.

Richard Solomon

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