The Real Deal

This deal from the 2009 Las Vegas Regional is a bridge writer/teacher’s dream come true. It features good intermediate lessons at both tables.

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6
Vul: Both A9 8
Q 5 3
♣ A Q J 10 8 2
♠ K J 9 3 ♠ 10 5 4
K J 7 Q 6 3 2
K J 9 8 7 6 2
♣ 7 ♣ K 6 4 3
♠ A Q 8 2
A 10 5 4
A 10 4
♣ A 9 5
North South
Hampson Weinstein
3NT Pass

Even though 1NT promised 15–17, I agree with Steve Weinstein’s upgrade. With three aces, two 10s and no jacks (they are overvalued), this hand is worth a strong notrump. Furthermore, the fact that the ♠Q and 10 are in the four-card suits with the aces adds value. Consider instead if the ♣Q were the ♣Q — a doubleton queen is not worth as much as when the queen is with the ace and a four-card suit. North, Geoff Hampson, raised to 3NT and West led a fourth-best diamond. How should declarer play?
Declarer should play low from dummy and win the first trick in hand with the ace! If you carelessly win the first trick cheaply with the 10, watch what happens. You lead the ♣9 for a finesse. East won’t help you by taking his king right away — he will hold up. Now, when you play more clubs, you will have no entry to dummy. Better to win trick one with the A. Then, when you regain the lead, you can lead a low diamond and reach dummy with the queen to make your contract. Steve played it this way to score 600. In the postmortem, he remarked, “I am a Life Master, you know.”
At the other table, this was the auction:

North South
2♣ 3♣

I’m not endorsing the North–South auction, but just reporting the facts. I was West and David Berkowitz was East. David led a diamond which was ducked to my king. I returned a diamond which was won in dummy (South). It appears that declarer has to lose only one trick in each suit. He can take the club finesse, but I have no quick entry to issue a diamond ruff. But look what happened.
At trick three, declarer led the ♣9 and let it run. David made a great hold-up play — he ducked the ♣K. Now, declarer continued trumps. He won the ♣A and knocked out the
king. David exited with a spade and declarer was doomed. He had no immediate way back to his hand. He tried the ♠Q, but I was able to win the ♠K and issue a diamond ruff for down one and a 12-IMP gain for our team.
Note the good technique used in the club and diamond suit at both tables. This was a Real Deal with a good lesson for declarer and defender. Well done, Steve and David.

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