Bridge Deal of the Week (October 11 2017)

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The Auction:

West North East South
Pass 1♣ 1♠ 2♣!*
4♣ Pass 4♠ Dbl
Pass Pass Pass  

* - Strong inverted minor raise, promising 8+ HCP and 4+ clubs

North started with 1♣, East overcalled with 1♠, South responded 2♣ – a strong inverted minor rise. West bid 4♣ (probably a splinter bid). North passed. East declared 4♠, South doubled and this became the final contract.

We invite you to take the South seat. Can you see a way to defeat the contract?

Vulnerable: North/South

Contract: 4♠ Dbl by East/West


You hold two aces and the K, which promise three tricks. You start by leading the A (trick 1) – hoping to retain the lead and see what support West – who becomes a dummy – can offer to East.

West's jump to 4♣ must have been a splinter bid, as West has no clubs. Instead West has a 5-card support of spades, the ♠KQ included. West also holds four diamonds and you have five. So East might have a doubleton or even singleton in diamonds and the declarer might harbor a merry plan of cross-ruffing.

But East cannot hope to trump everything, especially if the opponents are forced to play spades from both hands, shortening their holdings. You lead your singleton spade next, East takes this trick with the ♠J (trick 2), leads a small club and ruffs into dummy (trick 3). East plays the 7 from dummy next, you take this trick with the K (trick 4).

You cannot lead spades as you have none left, but if East started with a 5-card suit of spades, then North still has one more spade and could go on with the plan. You must find an entry point to North`s hand. If North holds high clubs, say the ♣AK, he still must have additional strength to be able to open. The whereabouts of the K are unknown and as East preferred to lead hearts, East has greater confidence in establishing hearts. You lead a small diamond – North wins this trick with the K (trick 5) and leads a small spade!

Dummy`s ♠8 wins this trick (trick 6). East leads a diamond from dummy and ruffs (trick 7), then leads a club and ruffs into dummy (trick 8). Next the declarer leads the J from dummy, which holds (trick 9), you discard a small diamond and East pitches a club.

East leads a diamond from dummy`s hand and ruffs (trick 10), then leads clubs again and ruffs into dummy (trick 11). After that the declarer leads the Q and ruffs (trick 12). East has the lead – the ♣J is led as the last card from the declarer, which gets smothered as you have the ♣Q and North plays the ♣A (trick 13).

 KQ873 Deal  AJ1065
 J872  103
 Q985  10
♣ -  J8642

Overall the opponents had only 14 HCP between them. 4♠ could have been meant as a sacrifice, but with a 10-card trump suit the opponents might have succeeded – as West was void in clubs and East had a singleton diamond, the declarer might have lost only two tricks in hearts and one trick in diamonds.

This hand is a classic example where only a trump lead could defeat the contract. If South had not led trumps and North followed suit, then East could have made it.

If the defending side has more HCP and the opponents are clearly sacrificing – relying on their long trump suit and distribution – is one of the situations, where it is essential to lead trumps to reduce the opponent`s long trump suit and diminish the declarer`s cross-ruffing potential.

Without extremely aggressive bidding by the opponents – after North opened the auction, East interfered and called 1♠ holding only 6 HCP and West called an aggressive splinter of 4♣ – South and North might gave found a contract of 5♣ or 5, but both would have gone down due to extremely unfortunate trump splits.

Instead, North and South could have made 4 losing one trick in spades, one trick in diamonds and West would have ruffed clubs once.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 4♠ Dbl -1 by West/East.

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