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    A Nice Place.

Your bidding was a little rustic but partner is there for you and you seem to have reached an excellent spot. All you have to do is make your contract, that’s all 13 tricks. One trick lost is not allowed!

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

 

You certainly seem to be in the right contract…but only if you make all 13 tricks! West leads Diamond-smallQ. The good news is that East will not ruff the opening lead. The other piece of good news is that the spade break cannot be worse than 7-0!

So, you need 12 more tricks. Off you go, hopefully not literally!

There may have been more scientific ways to describe your hand but partner got the message and barely could have better cards, especially those honours. “Next time, the Club-smallJ as well, please partner.” but that would be greed.

A 4-0 trump break would be a bit of a worry, especially with four in the West seat but apart from that, the only issue is how well that Spade-smallQ is protected. If it has at least three small cards below it, then discarding two spades on red suit winners and ruffing two more spades in dummy should see declarer home.

It would be nice to think that the spade break would be relatively even though a 4-3 break occurs only just over 60% of the time. So, catering for more extreme shapes could well be rewarding.

Our declarer did not get off to a great start when they won the opening lead and played a small trump to their hand to ruff a club. A couple of spades were discarded on the Heart-smallA and Diamond-smallK and a diamond was ruffed back to hand.

Crisis point. There was one potential spade loser left, Spade-smallJ. If the queen came down now under the Spade-smallAK, declarer could draw trumps and lay down the top two spades. If not, that Spade-smallJ would have to be ruffed with the Club-smallK and then the trump break would need to be 2-2. Declarer could play those high spades first and if no queen appeared, then ruff and hope. Yet, if the trump break was 2-2 and the spade break 5-2 or worse, declarer would be down, needlessly.

Dilemma! At the table, South ruffed Spade-smallJ but on returning to hand, found that the trumps broke 3-1 and a trick had to be surrendered to the Club-smallJ, needlessly. Let’s see why.

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

 

It looks like there were far more ways to succeed than fail in this contract! Yet, that trump to hand at trick 1 was not a clever move since barring a very extreme spade break, two ruffs with dummy’s two small trumps would see the contract home.

Although it might feel potentially riskier in coming to hand with three red suit ruffs, it would save most of the worries about the trump break. The Diamond-smallQ lead was a kind of safety net too in that it seemed very likely that West held Diamond-smallJ. Therefore, diamonds could be ruffed until Diamond-smallJ appeared. (Of course, a cunning West could make it appear more quickly than need be.)

So, discard a couple of spades on high red cards and ruff a diamond. (The opposition have more diamonds than hearts.)  Then ruff a spade low and ruff a second diamond. Now ruff the last small spade with Club-small10 and lay down Club-smallK.

With Diamond-smallJ appearing, ruff a heart to hand, lay down two high clubs and then two very high spades.

pathway to success.jpg

Job done. No stress…. Well, not much!

Few points still mean some decisions

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

 

You are silent during the auction and look like you will not have too much to do during the defence. 1Club-small was 4+ with 2NT showing 12-14 balanced. Your partner leads Spade-small5 (2nd and 4th leads) and dummy’s Spade-smallK takes the first trick with declarer playing Spade-small2.

Next comes a club to the king and your partner’s ace with your partner switching to Heart-small10. Declarer plays Heart-smallA from dummy.

Which cards have you played to the first three tricks?

Richard Solomon

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