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Hard to Make: Hard to Defeat.

When a game contract is made 14 times, even a few times with an overtrick, and fails just four times, you would think the right is on the declarer’s side, that the contract should be made. Indeed, that would be true of the deal below though I would wager a lot of money that the 14 declarers who made their contract were not put to the test by the defence.

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

 

2NT was 18-19 balanced with 3Club-small a major suit enquiry. 3Spade-small denied 4 hearts but showed 3 spades…and game was thus reached.

West led Diamond-small6 (2nd and 4ths) and your queen was taken by declarer’s king. A trump was led to West’s Spade-smallT and dummy’s queen. Plan the defence. If you do not win the first trump, declarer will play a second trump from dummy.

At several tables, initially, West led a heart which opened up the key danger suit for the declarer who holding Heart-smallJ42 was able to duck the opening lead to East’s ace. Although two hearts had to be lost, the only other loser proved to be the Spade-smallA.

However, back to the situation given as an initial diamond lead offered potential for the defence even though it gave the declarer three tricks in that suit. There would be no joy for East if they won the first round of spades. To score two heart tricks, they would have to exit passively in trumps and wait until the declarer discovers the bad club break.

The same is true if East ducked the first round and won the second round of trumps. However, the key for East to notice is that in ducking two rounds of trumps and winning the third, South might have difficulty getting off dummy back to hand to draw the fourth round of trumps. Diamond-smallA blocked that suit and if South had neither Club-smallJ nor Heart-smallQ, then East might even score a club ruff.

That is what happened where Michael Ware was East. He won the third round of spades and exited a small heart. Here are the four hands:

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

 

His partner’s heart cards were just right. Heart-small8 forced Heart-smallK. What would you do now as declarer? You can actually afford two heart losers and so could play that suit back. Two rounds of hearts and declarer is back where he does not want to be..on dummy as East could exit a club (an inspired West could exit Club-smallJ!). The second round of the suit provided East with his ruff to defeat the contract.

So, what could be done by South to make their contract? Could they anticipate at trick 1 being stuck in dummy in trying to draw trumps. This would only happen with a 4-1 or worse trump break. The way to avoid such a happening as Michael Ware created was to win trick 1 with the ace in dummy. Yet, it is not plain sailing as you have then created a potential third red suit loser (the diamond).

If declarer does win dummy’s ace and then plays two more rounds of diamonds, ruffing in dummy, they are almost certain to go down as East can win the second round of spades and once more trap declarer in dummy by playing hearts or indeed their club.

So, legitimately, to make, South must win Diamond-smallA and play a trump. Now, if East holds up to the third round, and plays a club, South can return to hand with a diamond, to the…? Yes, because of the bad club break, South must finesse. That is not so easy to do though unless clubs break 3-3, it may well be and indeed would be necessary to do so.

Thus, full marks to any declarer who received a diamond lead and played in this way. Three times a diamond was led and the contract made. Three times a diamond was led and the contract failed.

 make it easy.png

That’s what the declarers wanted.
Michael Ware was one defender who did not.

How hard was this contract to make? I would say potentially harder to make than to defeat if the challenging diamond lead had been made at trick 1.

No Fireworks but…

 

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

 

Those little part-score deals yield lots of match-points during a Pairs event (yes, significant too at Teams). West leads Heart-smallJ perhaps expecting more strength in that suit in dummy. Well, they did bid it! That went round to your queen. What next?

Richard Solomon 

 

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