Hand of the Week
This deal, from the World Bridge Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, is offered as a play problem. Can you find the solution?
Your partner’s 2NT bid was an artificial heart raise, showing extras. The opening lead is the ♦8. What is your plan? The contract, by the way, is cold now – if you play correctly. Decide on your line of play before reading on.
In the quarterfinal round of the women’s series of the Olympiad, Sweden’s Jenny Ryman actually bid 3NT with the South cards in the match against China, hoping to discourage a spade lead (she knew the final contract was going to be 4♥). She was rewarded when West started with the ♦8. Ryman still had to play without error, however.
She won dummy’s ♦A, played three rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, and played a club to the king. This was the key play because it severed communication between the East and West hands, of vital importance when you see the full deal.
The full deal:
West did not lead a spade, so Ryman correctly inferred that she did not have the A-K. If East’s honor was singleton, Ryman had a chance for the contract as long as West couldn’t get in. Once the club was played, Ryman could take the losing diamond finesse and still survive if East had a singleton honor.
This point of technique was missed at many tables. Further, when North was declarer, there was a challenge for the defenders. East could cash the ♠A on opening lead and switch to the ♣Q (a low club is better – but that’s tough to do with that sequence), but if declarer ducked, North had to play the ace to make sure the contract was defeated. That did not happen at every table.
In any event, Ryman earned her team 10 IMPs for her excellent play. At the other table, West led the ♦8 to the ace, and trumps were drawn, ending in the South hand. The ♦J was run to the queen, and East cashed the ♠A and followed with the ♣Q to the king and ace. The ♠K was the setting trick.