The Real Deal

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A solid 1430

This deal comes from the 2019 U.S. Bridge Championships. Take the cards of 2019 Hall of Fame inductee Peter Boyd:

♠A Q 10 7 6 5   A K Q 3  6  ♣9 2

He opened 1♠ and his longtime partner Steve Robinson responded a game-forcing 2♣. It is almost always a good idea to introduce a four-card suit here, especially when it is a major – and a very good suit, to boot. Boyd bid 2 and his partner raised to 3. Such a raise is stronger than a “closeout” jump to 4. Accordingly, Boyd looked for slam, and after some control bids and Roman key card Blackwood, landed in 6. The Q was led.

North
♠ K
9 7 6 2
8 7 2
♣ A K Q 4 3
South
♠ A Q 10 7 6 5
A K Q 3
6
♣ 9 2

The defense played two rounds of diamonds, and Boyd ruffed with his 3. What next? Should declarer work on spades or clubs?

Clearly, spades. Each suit has seven cards with the ace, king and queen, but the spade suit also has the 10. Much more importantly, if clubs aren’t 3–3, a club would need to be ruffed with a high heart, almost surely setting up a defensive heart trick.

Given that spades is the suit to work on, what is the order of play? We have to assume hearts are 3–2; if they’re 4–1, we’ve bid too much. If hearts behave and spades aren’t horrendous – like J–x–x–x–x in one hand – all should be OK.

Declarer crossed to the ♠K and then drew two rounds of trump, happy to see everyone follow. Drawing the last trump would be relying on spades to run. Much better is to now ruff a low spade in dummy. After that, play dummy’s last trump to declarer’s last trump, drawing the defender’s last trump. That’s a lot of lasts. Here was the Real Deal:

North
♠ K
9 7 6 2
8 7 2
♣ A K Q 4 3
West
♠ J 8 4 3
8 4
Q J 10 3
♣ J 10 7
East
♠ 9 2
J 10 5
A K 9 5 4
♣ 8 6 5
South
♠ A Q 10 7 6 5
A K Q 3
6
♣ 9 2

Nothing fancy, just good bidding judgment, careful declarer play and a solid plus 1430.