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Challenge Ahead

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K Q 9
6
K Q J 10 3
♣ A Q 5 2
South
♠ A J 10 8
A 8 2
7 5 2
♣ 8 6 3
West North East South
1 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 2♠
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 3♠ Pass 4♠
All Pass

You and your partner did well to avoid 3NT, which would have been down on a heart lead. Against your spade game, West leads a third-highest 5, East playing the jack. This looks challenging. How will you get to 10 tricks on this deal?

Solution

At trick one, declarer saw that if trumps were 3-3 he could win the first trick with the ace, ruff a heart and draw trumps in three rounds and then play on diamonds: he would lose only a heart and a diamond. However, declarer then asked himself, “What if West started with four trumps and a doubleton diamond?”

In that case, if, after ruffing a heart, declarer played on diamonds before drawing trumps, East would win the second diamond and play a third diamond for West to ruff. West would then exit with the *C*J, thereby ensuring the contract would fail. On the other hand, if declarer drew trumps before playing on diamonds then, on the actual layout, East would win the A and cash three heart tricks.

Declarer, therefore, let East hold the first trick. East then then shifted to a trump. As entries to hand were limited to the trump suit, declarer was careful to win this in hand with the ♠10 so that he could ruff the 8 in dummy with the ♠Q. Declarer continued by overtaking the ♠K with the ace so that he could draw West’s remaining trumps with his 10 and 8.

Declarer’s next move was to play a diamond to dummy’s 10. East allowed this to hold, so declarer continued with the K. East paused to consider the situation. It was obvious that declarer had the A. East saw the if he let the K hold he would be endplayed on the third round of diamonds and forced to lead a heart to declarer’s ace or a club into dummy’s tenace, gifting declarer an overtrick. So East took the trick with the A and exited with the 9 making sure that he would score the ♣K as the defense’s third trick, but declarer still had his contract. The full deal:

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K Q 9
6
K Q J 10 3
♣ A Q 5 2
West
♠ 7 6 4 2
10 7 5 3
8 6
♣ J 10 4
East
♠ 5 3
K Q J 9 4
A 9 4
♣ K 9 7
South
♠ A J 10 8
A 8 2
7 5 2
♣ 8 6 3