# The Real Deal

This deal was played in the 2008 Chattanooga TN Regional. My teammate, Jenny Wolpert, held this South hand en route to victory in the morning knockouts:
♠ A K Q 9 6 4 2
A 3
4 3
♣ 9 4
At unfavorable vulnerability, her partner opened 1♣. Right-hand opponent preempted 2 and Jenny bid the obvious 2♠. What should she do after partner’s rebid of 2NT?
Slam is possible, but facing a weak notrump (with any diamond honors likely offside), I would give up on slam. Furthermore, if a reasonable spade break is needed, the odds would decrease given RHO’s preempt. At matchpoints (maybe even IMPs), I might angle for 3NT, but it was certainly reasonable to bid 4♠, as Jenny did.
The opening lead is the 8 and this is what you see:
♠ 5
K Q 10 2
Q 10 2
♣ K Q 7 6 5
♠ A K Q 9 6 4 2
A 3
4 3
♣ 9 4
You are off three top tricks in the minors, so will need the spades to break 3–2. Furthermore, you are in danger of a trump promotion. Sure enough, East wins the J at trick one, then plays two top diamonds (LHO led the 8, then played the 7). What do you do at trick three?
At our table (same auction and defense), the declarer tried the ♠9. This would be a winning play if RHO started with either J–10 doubleton or J–10–x in spades. No luck. LHO overruffed and cashed the ♣A for down one.the heart length. The missing J is likely to be in the hand with the length. Furthermore, if East started with J x and three spades, you can’t make the contract by playing hearts from the top (East will ruff in on the third heart). So, playing hearts from the top will work only in the specific case where East started with J x x, or with J x and exactly two spades. Without being able to do the calculations, it sure feels right to play West for the J by laying down the A and then finessing the 10. This was the full deal:

 Dlr: North ♠ 5 Vul: N-S ♥ K Q 10 2 ♦ Q 10 2 ♣ K Q 7 6 5 ♠ J 10 3 ♠ 8 7 ♥ J 9 7 5 4 ♥ 8 6 ♦ 8 7 ♦ A K J 9 6 5 ♣ A J 10 ♣ 8 3 2 ♠ A K Q 9 6 4 2 ♥ A 3 ♦ 4 3 ♣ 9 4

As you can see, finessing the heart was the winning line. Declarer was able to throw both clubs on the long hearts and claim 620 to win 12 IMPs.
Note: The defense can always prevail. How? East has to somehow guess to win the first diamond, cross in clubs (so West gets to win his ♣A), then West has to shift back to diamonds. Now East can play the third round of diamonds to produce the trump promotion for down one. How would West know not to win his ♣A and try to give East a club ruff? I suppose a clever East could win the first trick with the K (not the J)! Now, West will “know” that declarer has another diamond (presumably the J) and revert to diamonds to get his uppercut. This is all too deep — in the first place, how would East know to play West for the ♣A?
Anyway, in real life, I think East would (and did) play three rounds of diamonds. Now it was up to South, and I think ruffing high, then later finessing the 10 was the right way to go. Surely on the real deal, it was the winning line.

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