Bridge Deal of the Week (March 07 2018)

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The Auction:
West  North  East  South
1NT   dbl      pass   2
all pass

You are South on this deal, declaring 2 after West opened a 15-17 1NT. West leads the 5, you choose to win the trick with dummy's ace. At trick two, you exit with a spade off of dummy, East wins the trick with the queen. East plays a trump, West wins the ace and plays back another trump. Plan the play.



Your side has a combined holding of 18 points, the opponents therefore have 22 points. West has advertised 15-17, so East has 5-7. East's spade play typically promises the king and queen, so he can have at most another queen. When West returns a heart after winning the A, it is tempting to finesse the ten. However, if East has the Q, he will back a third trump to lock you in dummy. If you win and exit a spade, the defenders will cash two more rounds of the suit, and stick you in dummy with a diamond, after which you will have to lose a club trick.

You cannot do any better by winning the king on the heart return - the same problem exists. If you exit a spade after going up with the K, the defenders will cash their spade tricks, the Q, and lock in in dummy with a diamond. The solution is to unblock the K under the ace! This has the effect of creating a trump entry to hand, in order to take a club finesse. Later, if the defenders do not play diamonds, you can ruff a club back to hand and take the diamond finesse.

 AJ8 Deal  KQ106
 A5  Q43
 Q1065  987
 KJ96  1087

The only other noteworthy variation is when declarer sticks in the J from dummy. If declarer exits with a spade at trick two, and East wins the ♠Q and backs a trump to West's ace, unblocking the K would once again result in success. In this scenario, declarer can survive even without unblocking the K. He should win the heart return with the king though, cash his diamond honors, and exit with a spade; the defenders will then be forced to provide an entry to the South hand.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 2♠ by East-West. While it appears as if there are six losers in 2♠, North will be endplayed at some stage, and will have to lead away from one of his honors.

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