Bridge Deal of the Week (May 25 2016)

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Problem


You reach the best game contract of 4♠, rejecting the inferior contract of 5♣. West leads the ♥Q. From a holding of AKQ, the opponents play the opening lead convention that queen asks for count. East plays the ♥2, showing an odd number of cards. West cashes the ♥A, and since he knows that a third heart will not cash, he shifts to the ♣5. How do you play the contract at IMPs where overtricks are immaterial?

Solution

   AJ  
   973  
   A  
   AQJ10964  
 10843 Deal  62
 AKQ84  J102
 1085  J932
 5  K872
   KQ975
   65
   KQ764
   3


If spades are 3-3, you can succeed with any reasonable line of play. For example, you can go up with the ♣A, unblock the ♦A, play the ace and jack of spades, ruff a heart in hand, play a third top trump drawing the outstanding trumps, and play king, queen and another diamond to establish the fifth card in the suit.

If trumps are 4-2, there is an elegant line of play that would guarantee your contract. You should go up with the ♣A at trick three, unblock the ♦A, and ruff dummy's remaining heart in hand. Now, your next move should be to cash the king and queen of diamonds, after which you should plan to play the rest of the hand along crossruff lines.

After cashing the king and queen of diamonds, you should ruff a diamond in dummy with the ♠J, and ruff a club with the ♠K. You will now ruff the last diamond with the ♠A, and advance a club from dummy. Here is the position:

 

 -
 -
 -
 QJ10
Deal
Q97
 -
 -
 -

If East follows with a club or discards to this trick, you will ruff with the ♠7. If this wins the trick, then you will cash the ♠Q for your tenth trick; if West overruffs, he will have to play into your Q9 of spades. If East instead chooses to ruff in when you lead a club, you will overruff East with the next higher trump. If West overruffs your card, this has the effect of rendering your trump holding into a tenace, and West therefore has to lead into your tenace after overruffing.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 3♠ by North-South.

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