17 ACBL - Bridge Hand of the Week
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Bridge Hand of the Week

Planning by Tim Bourke - Apr 21 2014

Dlr: South 8 6 4 
Vul: Both 6 5 3 
  8 6 
  K Q J 9 5 
  A Q J 3 
  A K Q 
  A J 4 3 
  6 3 
Pass3NTAll Pass 

West leads the J. The A is not singleton and the defense will not play that card on the first round of the suit. With that in mind, under what circumstances can you make nine tricks?


The first requirement for making the contract is that East started with K. The second is that spades must be 3-3. The third requirement is that you must be able to endplay one of the defenders for an eventual lead from a black suit that gives you the extra tricks you need. The most likely case for this to be brought about that each defender has four cards in one red suit and three cards in the other. If all of these conditions are met, then you can organize an endplay of one of the defenders, most likely the one who started with the A.

After winning the Q, declarer should play a low diamond at trick two. Suppose the full deal is as follows.

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

East wins the first diamond and continues with a heart to your ace. You win and play a second low diamond. Again, suppose East wins and plays a third heart to your king. The next move is to play a club to the king, which East must duck. After taking the winning spade finesse, cash the A to remove Eastís last card in the suit. Now, you play a second club. East wins and cashes the 13th heart, on which you throw the J. These cards remain:

  J 9 
9 7  K 10
  A Q 3 

And no matter which black suit East plays, you will have the rest.

If East had shifted to a low club at trick three, forcing you to take the spade finesse immediately, you would do so, then play a second low diamond at trick five. Eastís plan would be to win this and cash the A before exiting in hearts, thus avoiding being endplayed. You would counter by cashing your red-suit winners before exiting with the J. On the above layout, West would be endplayed, and the lead of either black suit would give you the last three tricks.

Finally, when the defender on lead returns a club at trick three, there are two more cases to consider.

The first is when the K Q are doubleton or tripleton. In that case, you will need to cash all of your red-suit winners and endplay East with A and another spade, hoping that Eastís last card is a club.

The second case is when the diamonds play for only one trick, and you judge that East has four clubs and an original 3=3=3=4 distribution. Then, after stripping East of his red-suit cards, you will play the A and another spade. On the supposition about his original distribution, East would have only two clubs remaining and dummy would take the last two tricks.