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For Improving Players

Monday, June 19, 2017
By Anant Bhagwat

This hand from a local tournament will be bread & butter for a good player, but I saw a few improving players flounder while making the contract.

    S- 9 8 5
    H- Q 9 7 5 3
    D- A J 5
    C- K 8

    S- A K Q 10 6
    H- J 2
    D- Q 3
    C- J 5 4 3

You are south. You open 1 spade, LHO bids 2 diamonds, partner bids 2 spades RHO & you pass, but west makes a nuisance of himself by bidding 3 diamonds. Partner persists with 3 spades which becomes the final contract. West finds the lethal lead of a trump. How do you continue?

The lead tells you that trump break is benign, because nobody leads a trump from 4 cards or singleton. Assuming that, you have 5 spade tricks. Diamond King must be with west so you have 2 diamond tricks. Club Ace has to be right so that is your 8th trick. For the 9th trick you need to ruff a club in dummy. Once you think along this line the hand looks simple. But you have to be careful about the timing. If you win the lead in hand & finesse the diamond immediately you will go down in this simple contract. You have to lead a club towards the king then come to hand after cashing the club King & then ruff a club. But the only entries to your hand are trumps. So how do you manage?

After winning the first trick in hand play a small club to king. West will win & persevere with a trump. Now you can cash the club king but you are in dummy with no entry to hand. You must overcome this problem by playing the diamond Queen at this point.

West will cover you win in dummy, & cash the club King. Now you cash the diamond Jack & ruff a diamond to enter your hand at the correct time to ruff a club in dummy. You exit from dummy with a heart & eventually enter hand with a heart ruff to draw the last trump & claim 9 tricks.

Then you can point out to your partner that a double of 3 diamonds will fetch at least 300 points.

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