Bridge Deal of the Week (May 02 2018)

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The Auction:

West North East South
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 3NT Pass Pass

South opens with 2NT. West passes. North responds 3– Jacoby transfer, indicating 5+ hearts. South answers 3, not an overenthusiastic response as South only two hearts. North bids 3NT, South feeling no desire to go for 4, passes.

West leads the 7.

South can count winning 7 top tricks – the ♠AKQ, AK and ♣AK and has 7-card majors.  How can South win 9 tricks?

Dealer: South

Vul: None

Contract: 3NT by South


East played the 10, so South won the first trick with theJ (trick 1) and counted 8 tricks. How should the declarer play? West`s lead was the fourth best and West probably has four more diamonds.

It seems obvious that South should try to establish one of the majors. But what if spades and / or hearts don`t break even? And there is a danger that East might get the lead, (1 trick lost) and lead back a diamond through South`s K-8, which might enable West to win four diamond tricks.

South decided to die boots on and led the K. West won the trick with the A (trick 2) and cashed in three more diamonds (tricks 3, 4, 5). East discarded three clubs, the ♣J included. South discarded a spade and a heart from dummy and a spade and a club from hand.

West exited with the ♣10, East, who had no clubs left, discarded a spade. South won the trick with the ♣A (trick 6). So West had started with five diamonds and four clubs. This meant that South`s fears about the majors had been well founded and West might hold two spades and two hearts, while East started with four spades and four hearts. But now East had been forced to discard a spade.

The declarer win the next trick with the ♣K, East discarded another spade (trick 7). The opponents now had only four spades left, so South could hope to win four tricks with spades.

The declarer led a heart to dummy`s A and cashed in the ♠K, both opponents followed lead (tricks 8, 9). South led a heart from dummy to King (trick 10) and won the last three tricks with spades (tricks 11, 12, 13).

  ♠ K5  
  ♣ 742  
♠ 84 Deal ♠ J1062
75 Q942
AQ972 108
♣ Q1096 ♣ J83
  ♠ AQ973  
  ♣ AK5  

After one partner opens with a strong 2NT, often the partnership will end up playing the contract of 3NT feeling perhaps righteously, that if one of them has a 2NT  opening count –  they should get a contract`s worth of points out of it. Especially if the responder has a weak hand, 3NT seems almost an automatic choice.

But 2NT doesn’t grant the success of 3NT automatically. Here North`s and South`s hands were a bit misfit, without a single 8-card suit between them. The declarer had 7-card majors, but those were both split 4-2.

South`s decision to put West on lead was original. After winning four tricks with diamonds, West had to lead from uncomfortable position and as East had two diamonds, East was squeezed and had to discard his precious majors.

The par contract of this deal is 4 by South. Playing this contract, South would have lost two tricks in diamonds to West and on in hearts to East.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 4 by South.

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