Bridge Hand Of The Week

A step ahead

By Tim Bourke, Dec 26, 2011
Dlr: South Vul: None
17 13
Q J 8 3 A 10 2 A 5 A Q 8 2

A K 9 6 K Q J 7 6 5 8 3 4
West 3Pass Pass All Pass
North Dbl 4NT 5NT
East Pass Pass Pass

After West's weak jump overcall, your side does well to reach a good grand slam. West leads the K. Assuming that trumps are not 5-0, how do you plan to make 13 tricks?


You have 10 major-suit winners and two aces, so the 13th trick could come from a successful club finesse or, even better, a club ruff. After taking the K with the ace, your first move should be to draw two rounds of trumps with the ace and queen. If all follow, draw the last trump, cash the A, ruff a club in hand and then claim the remaining tricks with six heart winners and dummy's last trump.

If East began with four trumps, cash the A, ruff a club cheaply, cash the K, cross back to hand with a heart and draw East's remaining trump with dummy's jack, throwing the losing diamond from hand. You will have taken the first eight tricks with five heart winners still to come.

A difficulty comes when West has four trumps and the expected seven diamonds, as in this layout:

17 6 4 13
Q J 8 3 A 10 2 A 5 A Q 8 2
10 7 4 2 4 K Q J 10 9 7 6 3
5 9 8 3 4 2 K J 10 9765

A K 9 6 K Q J 7 6 5 8 3 4

After cashing the ace of trumps, it is crucial to lead the nine of trumps to dummy's queen, as we shall see. Then you continue with A and a club, which you ruff with the king of trumps, West discarding his heart. Now, thanks to your foresight, you lead the 6 and finesse dummy's 8. The J allows you to draw West's 10 of trumps while discarding the losing diamond from hand. Once again you will have made eight tricks with five heart winners still to be cashed in hand.

Note that if you fail to unblock the 9 under dummy's queen, you will have to try to cross back to dummy in hearts and, in that event, West will have an unpleasant surprise for you.