#81 Card Combination
South West North East
2C Pass 2D Pass
2NT Pass 6NT All Pass
Opening lead: DJ Plan the play
You have 9 top tricks with at least two more available in hearts plus the possibility of a 3-3 diamond division. Win the opening lead with the DQ, the honor that West cannot hold, DQ and lead a heart to the queen. If it loses you will be able to test both the diamonds and the hearts after cashing your black suit winners. If the HQ holds, return to your hand with a club and lead a second heart towards the king. If West wins the ace, you have 12 tricks. If the king holds, your best bet is to lead a third heart and hope for a 3-3 division. The key is the way you have attacked hearts leading up the king- queen twice catering to Ax in the West hand.
The West hand: S. 1072 H. A9 D. J10983 C. 1085
The East hand: S. 8643 H. 10853 D. 53 C. J942
#82 What a Hand!
West North East South
3H Pass Pass 6S
Opening lead: HK You win the HA (nice play) and bang down the SA, East discarding a diamond. Plan the play.
Your hope to get to dummy with a trump to take the diamond finesse which is likely to work on the bidding, has just vanished. Now what? What you have to do is play each and every one of your trump reducing to the AK6 of clubs and the AQ of diamonds. Say East has the DK. If so, East must hang on two diamonds and if East started with a likely five or six clubs (remember, East was void in spades and figures to have but two hearts), East will be forced to reduce to three clubs and two diamonds. You then play the ace-king and a club throwing East in and forcing East to lead a diamond from his hoped for king.
The West hand: S. 943 H. KQJ10983 D. 8 D. Q5
The East hand: S. - H. 54 D. KJ10763 C. J10943
THE BOTTOM LINE
When you don't have an entry to take a finesse, keep in mind the possibility of a throw-in that will force an opponent to lead the finesse suit.
#83 Jacks or Better?
East South West North
1NT* 2S Pass 3S
Opening lead: H9 You play low from dummy and East wins the HQ, cashes the HA, and shifts to the CQ to dummy's king. You lead the S10 to the ace, West playing the jack. On the SK, West discards a heart. Just for drill you play the ace and trump a club East following with the 6 and jack. You can't delay it any longer. How do you play the diamonds?
Count points: East has turned up with the AKQ of hearts, the QJ of clubs and the SQ for a total of 14 HCP. If East had the DA, he would have been too strong to open 1NT holding the DA, 1NT, but needs the DJ to get up to 15 HCP. Play East for the DJ, lead up to the DK and run the D10.
The West hand: S. J H. 98765 D. A73 C. 8754
The East hand: S. Q2 H. AKQ3 D. J64 C. QJ106
THE BOTTOM LINE
As a defender playing against an opponent who has opened a strong notrump (15-17), assume declarer has 16 HCP; you can never be off more than one point. However, if opener refuses an ivitational bid of 2NT, assume 15 HCP, rather than 16. As a defender, it is almost always right to play cards you are known to hold. When South leads the C9 from dummy, East plays the CJ, a card he is known to hold from the previous lead of the jack.
I will be using a different format from here on in. I won't be giving the East-West hand because basically it doesn't matter. The idea is to give yourself the best chance in the play and if it doesn't work, it doesn't mean you misplayed the hand.
West North East South
Pass 1C Pass 1S
Passs 1NT Pass 4S (all pass)
Open lead: DA (A from AK at trick one only) East plays low and West shifts to the CQ. Plan your play.
Given West's original pass and subsequent honor card leads, it is clear that East has the HK. The answer is to duck the DQ, win the club return, play the ace and a spade to the king and discard your heart on the CA. Now the HA and the HQ through East. Say East covers, you trump, get back to dummy with a trump and discard a diamond on the H10. When the smoke clears you have 10 tricks: 6 spades, two hearts and two clubs. Use the bidding to guide you in the play.
#85 Really Simple
While other pairs were struggling to get to 4H, you and partner bid to 6H! West leads a low club. Plan the play.
Don't make this harder than it is. All you have to do is ruff the opening lead and duck a heart. If hearts are 3-2, you have 12 tricks regardless what they return: Four hearts tricks in your hand, five diamonds, two spades and a club ruff in dummy. It always helps to count your tricks before embarking on a line of play. Also, one way of keeping control of a hand that has an automatic trump losers is to concede a trump early.
#86 Slam Dunk
You arrive at 6D facing silent opposition. West leads the HQ. Plan the play.
Don't come home lame on this one! Win the HA, draw as many trumps as necessary and play the ace-king and jack of spades discarding a heart if East plays low. If West wins the queen, you have the 10 in dummy for a club discard. If East has the Q, you won't lose a heart trick and will be able to take the club finesse for an overtrick.
Your loser on loser play ensured the contract without risking either black suit finesse. The key elements of a loser on loser play are having the second and third ranking cards in the suit (the J10 after the ace has been played) facing a void with a side suit entry to the J10. Lead the jack and discard a loser if the jack is not covered. If the jack loses to the queen the 10 is good for another discard. You gain a trick but most important avoid losing your quick loser, the heart, in addition to losing the finesse trick if you take the spade finesse and it loses.
#87 Which One Will it Be?
After partner opens 1C and raises your 1H response, you steamroll the hand to 6H. West leads the DQ. Plan the play.
If the club finesse works, you won't need the spade finesse as you will have 12 tricks. However, if it loses, down you go. If you guess the spade you won't need the club finesse because one club goes on the DK and the most you can lose is a spade. What you want to do is combine your chances. After drawing trumps, play the king-ace of clubs. 20% of the time the queen will drop ending your problems. If it doesn't drop, you have to get the spades right.
Assuming you can get it right half the time, all in all you have a 60% shot. Better than a one shot finesse. When you have two finesses to take, basically missing two queens, play the ace-king of the longer suit and if the queen doesn't drop, take the finesse in the shorter suit. There is some inference that East has the SA because the suit wasn't led.
How would you play this hand at IMPs? How would you play it at matchpoints?
You have no trouble getting to 4S after partner opens 1C. Now let's see if you can make it after West leads the HQ.
Let's hope you haven't forgotten your loser on loser technique from hand #86. Keep in mind you start with 9 tricks. At IMPs, win the HK, draw trumps, and play the CA and CQ intending to throw a diamond if East plays low. If West wins the king, the most you can lose is two diamonds as your heart loser goes off on the CJ. If East has the CK and doesn't cover, the CQ is your 10th trick. If East covers, you trump and the CJ is your 10th trick.
At matchpoints you have too good a chance for a relatively save overtrick by winning the HK, cashing the SA (optional) and playing the ace and queen of clubs as before. The difference is that if East has Kxx(x) of clubs you have the entries to set up a third club trick and make an overtrick.
With neither side vulnerable, this is the auction:
North East South West
Pass 2H 4S Dbl.
2H was weak and West starts with the AQ of hearts, East playing first the 10 and then 3. Plan the play.
It looks pleasant enough, but there is trouble brewing. West is likely to have the three missing spades and once he gets in with the SK, he will lead a low diamond to East (remember that 10 and 9 of hearts?) to East who can return a third heart to promote the S10 to the setting trick. You can prevent this impertinence by discarding a diamond at trick two, cutting the lifeline between the East-West hands. Now there will be no trump promotion and you will come romping home with 10 tricks.
#90 Everybody's favorite contract
You have one of your diamonds mixed in with your clubs! (anyway that is what you are planning to tell partner if your opening bid of 1NT(?) doesn't work.) Partner raises to 3NT and there you are in the best contract. West leads the S10 and East plays the S6. See anything clever?
I gave you a tip with that 'see anything clever'? There is something clever you can do. Before ducking a club and relying on 3-2 clubs (68%), it can't cost to plunk down the DA first just in case either opponent has a singleton honor. If an honor appears, forget clubs and set up your diamonds for four tricks and ensure 9 tricks. If an honor doesnt drop, duck a club. A singleton jack or king will only appear about 5% of the time, but 5% is better than nothing.