Bridge Deal of the Week (May 24 2017)

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Problem

The Auction:

West North East South
  1♠ Pass 1NT
Pass 2NT Pass 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
all pass      

North opens the auction with 1♠, South responds with 1NT. North’s rebid – 2NT shows 17-19 HCP, so it is not surprising that South bids 4. What is a bit surprising is that North asks for the aces next with 4NT. South answers 5, which becomes the final declaration.

We invite you to take the seat of South. Can you see a road to 11 tricks? West leads the ♣Q.

Contract: 5S

Vulnerable: none

 

 

 

Solution

You take the first trick with dummy’s ♣A. The main problem is how to avoid losing three tricks in diamonds – how to get rid of the four small diamonds you hold. One diamond could be discarded on clubs, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

You have sufficient trumps to ruff dummy’s spades, but as dummy is short in hearts, you cannot ruff into dummy after pulling the trumps. You also face transportation problems – despite the fact that North has 18 HCP, there are not many entry points to dummy’s hand, so you must consider carefully how to proceed.

It seems the answer to all problems is not to draw the trumps, but cross-ruff.

You lead the ♣K from dummy, but instead of discarding a small diamond, you ditch the ♠A (trick 2). Then you lead the ♣10 from dummy’s hand, ruff and lead a small spade to dummy’s king (tricks 3, 4). Now you lead a small spade, East ruffs, you overruff (trick 5) and lead a small heart. West plays the Q, dummy’s K wins the trick (trick 6).

Now you lead another spade from dummy and ruff, East discards a small diamond (trick 7). No choice, but to lead diamonds now! West plays the K.

Before taking the trick with the A, you stop. After all what do you need? You need someone to lead spades or clubs and you know West has all the rest of spades. As West’s opening lead was the ♣Q, West probably has long clubs too. So you have nothing to lose by letting West to win this trick – thus you duck (trick 8).

West leads the ♠Q, East discards another diamond, you ruff (trick 9) and lead a small diamond to dummy’s ace (trick 10). West ditches a small club, so the K was a singleton.

Now you lead the last spade from dummy, East ditches another diamond; you ruff with the A (trick 11). Next you lead a diamond, East ruffs (trick 12) and leads hearts, dummy’s J takes the last trick (trick 13).

   K8765  
   KJ  
   A102  
   AK10  
 QJ942 Deal  10
 Q  10765
 K  QJ974
 QJ9742 863
   A3  
   A98432  
   8653  
   5  

This may seem like a piece of cake, but due to difficult distribution – West had two singletons and East one, so no suit was evenly split – South faced many problems. Trumps couldn’t be pulled as the declarer needed them to ruff. Anyway missing hearts were split 4-1, so if trumps were drawn, East’s 10 would have become a winner.

The declarer also had to solve the transportation problem between dummy and hand – dummy’s two hearts offered the only entry points besides the ♠K and A. By discarding the ♠A the declarer elegantly solved this problem, thus creating the possibility to ruff spades four times.

Still a miracle was needed to win 11 tricks as the declarer had small diamonds both in dummy and hand. By letting West to win a trick with the K, West was endplayed – he had no choice but to lead spades – so South created one more entry point to dummy.

After that the declarer had two trumps and so did the opponents, but as South had higher hearts, he was able to win two of the last three tricks.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this hand is 5 by North/South.

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