Bridge Deal of the Week (September 14 2016)

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Problem

The Auction:

 

West North East South
      1NT
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 3♥! Pass 4♠
Pass 4NT Pass 5♣
Pass 6♠ all pass

 

 

You open the auction with 1 NT, North responds with 2♣ (Stayman), you deny a four-card major with 2 and North bids 3. This game forcing bid – a Smolen transfer* – means North has 5-4 in majors, with spades the longer suit.

As you have a three card support in spades you answer with 4♠. North asks for aces, you show 3 keycards by RKCB keycard system and North declares 6♠. West leads the ♣6. How are you going to play this small slam?

* The Smolen transfer is an extension of the Stayman convention. It is used when the responder has 6-4 or 5-4 in the majors. After 1NT-2♣-2 the responder bids the complementary (shorter) major on three level so the opener can declare the final contract.

 

Solution

The ♣K wins the first trick.

You’ve got two losers in hearts, so you need to discard these. Diamonds offer an opportunity, but you miss the Q.

As you have only two diamonds on the table finessing might not succeed if one of the opponents has long diamonds; therefore the most foolproof way is to try to give away one diamond trick. But you must give away that diamond trick early in the game – as you can access the longer diamond suit in your hand only a limited number of times due to the small number of entry points. (The first trick just eliminated one of the entry points.)

So you lead a small diamond and play the J from table, hoping that East has the queen, he has and takes the trick with the Q.

East now leads clubs again; you win the trick with the ♣A, another entry point gone.

You lead a small diamond to the king – both opponents play diamonds, so eight down now – then lead a small spade from dummy taking the trick with the ♠10. Now you lead the ♠A and ♠J to take down the last trumps.

After pulling the trumps you can take three tricks with diamonds discarding dummy’s hearts until there’s only the A and ♠KQ left on the table, so you can claim the last three tricks.

  KQ864  
  A974  
  KJ  
  92  
953 Deal 72
Q106 K53
102 Q863
Q10765 J843
  AJ10  
  J82  
  A9754  
  AK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there’s another way to play this hand, instead of giving away one trick in diamonds you could ruff one diamond trick. After taking the first trick with the ♣K, you would have to pull two rounds of trumps with the A and J, lead the J and if West covers with the Q, take this trick with dummy’s ace.

Then take a trick with the K and lead the J. If East covers with the queen, take this trick with the ace and pull the last trump with the ♠10.

(If East does not cover, then you can lead a small spade from dummy and cross over to hand with the ♠10.)

Now you can take a trick with the A discarding a small heart from dummy’s hand and as East still has the Q, you lead a small diamond and ruff. (If not, you can win a trick with your 9 discarding a small heart, lead diamonds again and ruff as East has the 8.)

Either way you can cross back to the hand with the ♣A and play your last diamond, which is a winner, discarding the second small heart from dummy. After that the opponents will get 1 trick in hearts while the last one belongs to you with the ♠K.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this hand is 6♠ by North/South.

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