Test Your Play

1. Matchpoints

♠ A
A Q 8
4 3 2
♣ A K J 9 4 3
♠ Q J 10
7 6 3
A K Q 10 9 8 7
♣ —
WEst North East South
Pass 1
Pass 2♣ Pass 3
Pass 4NT Pass 5♠(1)
Pass 7 All Pass

(1) 2 key cards and the Q.

West leads the 2. East–West play weak two-bids. Plan the play.


One line is to win the A, cash the ♠A, cash the ♣A K discarding hearts, cross to the A, ruff a spade, ruff a heart, ruff a spade, and ruff a heart. If nothing terrible has happened, you remain with high trumps.

Could something terrible happen? If West has led a singleton (or doubleton) heart, something terrible could indeed happen: When you to go ruff a heart, West, having started with two or three diamonds, will ruff and down you go.

But how likely is this? If West led a singleton heart, East had the K J 10 9 x x and perhaps an outside queen or king and did not open 2 at favorable vulnerability. If West led the 2 from a doubleton heart, you just pay off.

The danger is mistiming the play and winding up in dummy after ruffing hearts before spades, drawing one round of diamonds after you ruff a heart, for example. Now you have to come off dummy ruffing a club and could run into a layout where West has a doubleton club and the J x x.

The simplest line that works (if the lead is honest) is this: A, ♠A, ♣A K, heart ruff, spade ruff, heart ruff, spade ruff, and now dummy’s remaining diamond to the solid diamonds in your hand.

2. IMPs

♠ A Q J 8 4
3 2
♣K J 9
♠ K
9 4 3 2
A 4
♣ A Q 10 8 7 5

After you open 2♣ to show six clubs and 11–l5 HCP, West overcalls 3 , and you wind up in 7♣.

West leads the K and East plays the 9. You win the ace, cash the ♣10, both following, now the ♠K, both following, and a club to dummy.

A. How do you conitinue if both follow?

B. How do you continue if West discards a diamond?


A. If both follow, cash the ♠A Q J discarding hearts! If spades are 4–3, you have 13 tricks. If East has five spades, West started with a 2=2=7=2 pattern and East, holding four hearts, is a favorite to hold the K, so run the Q, discarding a diamond. If East has the king, you make the grand; if West has it, down one.

If East started with six spades, West started with 1=3=7=2 pattern, and now you have to decide who to play for the K. If you think East has it, run the Q. If you think West has it, ruff a spade and take the heart finesse.

B. If West has a singleton club, do not draw the third trump, but cash spade winners instead, discarding hearts. If spades are 4–3, draw the last trump and claim. You have 13 tricks.

If East started with five spades, West is 2=3=7=1, so you have to guess who has the ♥K. If East started with six spades, West is 1=4=7=1, so after cashing a second spade (discarding a heart) and seeing the division, draw East’s last trump, cash a third spade, discarding a diamond, then a fourth spade, discarding a heart, ruff a spade and take the heart finesse, playing the odds.

On a hand like this, it helps to know your customers. If West is a conservative bidder, play him for K when hearts are 3–3. If he is an aggressive bidder, play East for the K.

Thanks to Bob Shapiro of Los Angeles CA for this one.

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