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North opened with 1♦. South responded 1♥. North jumped to 3♦. South declared 3NT. East doubled. Can you help South to plan the play – how to win 9 tricks?
West leads the ♥Q.
Contract: 3NT Dbl by South
East takes the first trick with the ♥A (trick 1) and leads back clubs. Why didn’t East return hearts?
South has to play the ♣10 – in case East has no more hearts and chose to establish his long club suit – which wins the trick (trick 2). So East probably holds the ♣KJ.
Diamond time, South has to lead the ♦J, a small diamond form dummy and East`s ♦K wins the trick (trick 3). Now East leads the ♥4, South has to take the trick with the ♥K (trick 4) and discard a spade from dummy`s hand.
Diamond time again, South has to lead his last diamond to dummy`s Ace (trick 5). A bad surprise, West discards a club, so East has still two diamonds – the ♦10 included – and the split was 4-1. South can take one more trick with the ♦Q (discarding the ♠9 from hand, East discards another club) and has to give up one more trick in diamonds to promote his last diamonds into winners (trick 6).
South leads a diamond from dummy; East wins the trick with the ♦10 (trick7) and leads a spade.
The declarer has won 4 tricks and can count on 4 more (the ♠A, the ♣A and two diamonds) – one more is needed. The ♣K is probably offside and cannot be finessed. So the only hope for an extra trick is spades. East doubled and so far East has shown the ♥A, the ♦K and has probably the ♣K – 10 HCP. It is doubtful East doubled with 10 HCP, most probably East holds the ♠K too.
Thus the declarer has to play the ♠10 hoping that East has underled the King again and risk the possibility that West, who still has three hearts, might get the lead.
West covers with the ♠J, so dummy`s ♠Q takes this trick (trick 8). Now South can cash in dummy’s two diamonds (tricks 9, 10) and the ♠A and ♣A (tricks 11, 12). The last trick belongs to East with the ♣K (trick 13).
3NT was a bit stretched, but it was worth trying. South could count on three tricks with the ♠A, ♣A and the ♥K. An eight-card suit of diamonds can be enormous help, especially if the diamonds broke 3-2, then South would have lost only one trick in diamonds to the ♦K. But the 4-1 split has the probability of 28 % and in this case East had four diamonds.
But even with five diamond tricks, South needed one more. Here East`s double came in helpful – East certainly had strength, but that didn’t help him – on the contrary, every time East won a trick, he was forced to underlead his King, giving the declarer free finesses in clubs and spades.
Par Contract Analysis
The par contract on this deal is 2NT by North/South.
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