Bridge Hand Of The Week

So many options

Mar 27, 2017
Dlr: East Vul: None
18 12
Q J 6 5 3 3 2 A K J A K 9

A K 10 4 2 A 8 7 3 J 8 4 3
West 4All Pass
North 5
East2Pass
South26

Your partners jump to 5 asked you to bid slam if you had a heart control (singleton, void, guarded K). Had your opener been a bit stronger, you might have bid 6 to show first-round heart control and interest in a grand slam on the way to 6. Against the small slam, West leads the 10. How will you get to 12 tricks?

Solution

Declarer won the opening lead in hand and could count to 10 top tricks, with an 11th available via a heart ruff. The 12th trick could come from the club suit or a winning diamond finesse.

Clearly, the club suit should be tested first with the diamond finesse as a fallback.

After drawing trumps with the ace and queen, declarer placed East with eight cards in the majors. With that in mind, declarer rated the normal play in clubs of ace, king and another as too fragile an approach to the suit it would lose when West started with four or five to the Q-10. Also, when West did start with four or five clubs, it became less likely that the diamonds finesse would succeed.

After some thought, declarer developed a plan that would always bring a 12th trick as long as East started with six hearts. First, he cashed the A and ruffed dummys remaining heart. Next he led a low club towards dummys K-9. When West followed with a low club, declarer called for dummys 9. When that held, he had 12 tricks.

When West suggested that this was a lucky play, declarer retorted, You should see that this plan succeeds against any club layout. If East takes the 9 with the 10 and the suit is 3-3, then dummys J can be discarded on the 13th club. If you began with five or six clubs, this approach will always produce an extra trick in the suit. It also works when East takes the 9 with the queen or a doubleton 10. In the latter case, East will be endplayed and forced to concede an extra trick either by leading a diamond into dummys tenace or to conceding a ruff-and-discard. Finally, if East started with four clubs, then he could have at most one diamond. After cashing the A, I could finesse the J with total confidence that it would work. The full deal:

18 2 8 12
Q J 6 5 3 3 2 A K J A K 9
8 10 9 5 4 9 6 5 4 Q 10 6 5
9 7 K Q J 8 7 6 Q 10 2 7 2

A K 10 4 2 A 8 7 3 J 8 4 3