February 2018 English Bridge
Hand 4 ´ 8 5 4
™ K Q 6 3
t 7 6 2
® K 10 3
´ Q J 9 6 2 ´ 10 3
™ 8 ™ 10 4
t K 10 8 3 t J 9 5 4
® J 7 2 ® Q 9 8 6 5
´ A K 7
™ A J 9 7 5 2
t A Q
® A 4
Hand 3 ´ J 7 3
™ 6 2
t Q 10 7 5
® Q 8 5 2
´ Q 8 2 ´ K 9 6 4
™ K 10 7 4 ™ Q J 9 5
t K 4 3 t 8
® J 7 3 ® 10 9 6 4
´ A 10 5
™ A 8 3
t A J 9 6 2
® A K
3NT. West leads the ™4 and East plays the™J.
It looks likely that 3NT will be the contract at both
tables. You have six top tricks, and expect to win
three or four extra tricks in diamonds.
However, there is no immediate entry to the
dummy, and the club suit is blocked making it nontrivial
to win three club tricks. To make matters
worse, West has attacked your weakest suit. How
should you handle the various issues at hand?
The first question is when should you win the
™A? West's ™4 is consistent with a four card holding
(you can see the ™2 and ™3 in the dummy and in
your hand). There is therefore no advantage to
ducking the first trick. Upon winning the ™A, the
next issue revolves around untangling three club
tricks without establishing a fifth winner for the
defenders in the process. If you unblock the ®AK,
then play the tA followed by the t2, and the
defender with the tK (West in this case) is able to
duck the second round then you will have a
problem. Cashing the ®Q will establish a club
winner for the defence and playing a third diamond
allows the defenders to cash their hearts then lead a
spade. You will now be unable to cash your winners.
However, South should be prepared to lose a trick
to the tK and after unblocking the ®AK can just
lead the t9. If West wins the tK, then South has
good communications between the two hands. If
West ducks the t9, then South leads the t2. West
has to win this trick and can cash three hearts before
switching to spades, but South is in control. You can
win the ´A, cross to the t10, cash the ®Q then
overtake the tQ to make her contract.
6™. West leads the ´Q.
You have reached a reasonable slam contract, but
there is no guarantee that this will be duplicated at
the other table, so a lot hinges on winning 12 tricks.
You have 11 top tricks, and the best hope for an
extra trick is to win a trick with the tQ. You have
plenty of trumps, so you can win the ´A, and draw
trumps ending in the dummy, then lead the t2
towards the tQ to give yourself a 50% chance of
making an extra trick. However, if the finesse fails,
you will be left with an almost certain spade loser.
Can you improve your chances?
If you lead diamonds from the dummy then you
have a 50% chance of winning a trick with the tQ,
but if West can be made to lead a diamond then
your chances rise to 100%! How can this be
It will be necessary to throw West on lead (in
spades), and then hope that he leads a diamond.
You could therefore win the ´A, draw trumps, then
play the ´K followed by the ´7, hoping that West
wins this trick. However, on this layout, when he
now wins the ´9, he can simply exit with a club,
leaving you to finesse diamonds for yourself.
To make West lead a diamond for you, all other
safe options need to be eliminated. You should thus
win the first trick with the ´A, draw trumps, then
play the ®A, lead to the ®K and trump the ®10.
You can now try the effect of cashing the ´K, then
playing the ´7. West can win the ´9, but will have to
play a fourth spade (conceding a ruff-and-discard),
or lead a diamond to your advantage.
If East is able to win the third round of spades,
then he will also have to lead a diamond, but now
you will need the finesse to succeed, and your
chances will be back to 50%. r