Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

The 41st Tallinn – Swiss Teams in Estonia

I had a lot of fun watching some very exciting this morning.  I was kibitzing the Swiss Team event at the Tallinn Festival in Estonia.  Here is one deal

North-South quickly arrived in 6 . At one table East led a trump. North has three potential losers, a club and two hearts. But he can throw some of them away on the spade winners. On a trump lead North can actually try hearts and clubs. He can lead a heart towards dummy and if the K holds he can then discard the rest of the hearts in his hand on spades and just give up a club. If the heart loses to the A he can try theQ and if the J doesn’t fall he can fall back on the club finesse. Lots of chances. But what if you get a club as in the Open Room? In this case the 6 playing third and fifth.  Should you rise on the A? If you do how should you play the hand now?

Let’s say you think that East has the K and you rise. You unblock the K and draw trump ending in dummy.   East showing up with three diamonds.  You play of two rounds of spades discarding your remaining clubs and then play the last spade discarding a heart. East shows out on the fourth spade.  Here is the ending.



West East

At this point you know that West was had five spades three diamonds and probably three clubs but you can’t be certain of the clubs.  So likely two hearts. If you think that West has the  J you could finesse the  10, 50%.  You could also lead a heart to your Q.   If East has the A then he can win and will have to play a heart back since a club sets up your twelfth trick.  At this point the odds suggest that East has the J because he has more hearts.  Therefore you duck.  If the Q holds you could play a heart towards dummy and duck completely playing West for the doubleton ace.  Given the likelihood that East has four hearts a heart to the queen doesn’t seem too bad, possibly more than 50%.  A third line might be the ruffing finesse in clubs and then leading the Q out of your hand.  If that holds then play a heart to dummy’s K.  This seems worse because it needs more cards well placed.

I think the right line once you rise on the A is to play a heart to the queen and we see that works.  We all thought at the time that the club finesse at trick one was best but then who wants to go down at trick one.  North played the first few tricks as described but faltered in this ending.  Full credit to East who made the nice attacking lead at trick one.

This deal from the same event caused so much discussion at the table and so many comments and questions from spectators that I finally promised to write it up in my blog.

It seems innocent enough. West lead his stiff club and declarer rose with the ace and led a club out. East won with the J as West discarded a heart. East returned a diamond won in dummy with the diamond ace. Declarer played another club. East won and West discarded a second heart. East continued a diamond ruffed by declarer. Declarer led out the 10 which East won.  East returned the H10 covered with the Q, A and ruffed. This is the ending.



West East
87 4
J8 953

It seemed apparent to the spectators that North had the rest of the tricks.  He could ruff another diamond high/  Cash his top heart throwing a diamond and play a trump to dummy, drawing trump and claiming.  The problem was that South (Luks) was worried that the trumps might be 4-1.   At this point he has four tricks in and he needs five of the remaining six to make his contract.  If he ruffs a diamond then cashes his heart throwing a club (not a diamond), he can make the remaining three tricks he needs on a high crossruff.

So yes, that line will work for those who suggested it.  But at the table South did not throw a club, he threw a diamond.  He can still make it by cashing the K and playing a club.  West will ruff in with his last trump but dummy will now be high.  Of course if you play it this way you are playing for trump to split so you may as well have claimed a few tricks back.  However our declarer ruffed a heart after cashing the K.  This leaves him a trick short.  If he tries to play a club the defense ruffs and returns a trump and declarer can take no more tricks.

So for those who thought Luks played it right:  yes, it was right to guard against the 4-1 trump break but only if he continued along the lines that let him make the hand.

Then at the table Luks claimed and the defense agreed.  The Vugraph operator confirmed all happened as stated.  So unless there was some error somewhere this was indeed  a false claim.  Thanks to everyone who sent me comments (I think everyone who was watching did just that).  I hope this clears it allup.


ArikMay 31st, 2009 at 6:46 am

Regarding the five cards endgame of the first board – if declarer chooses to play to his ♥Q E can counteract that by ducking it and then duck again when declarer plays a second ♥.

It’s not that difficult a play to find (well, I might be underestimating it a bit :-)) as E can see he’s going to be endplayed if he wins.

The risk is negligible since even if W has the ♥T (in that case winning the ♥Q with the A and playing a H back guarantees the set) declarer needs to be clairvoyant in order to play the ♥K once the Q won the previous trick.

Linda LeeJune 1st, 2009 at 3:51 am

The contract is 6D not 6NT. If East ducks both hearts declarer has two hearts and the two trump in his hand.

ArikJune 1st, 2009 at 5:54 am

In the aforementioned 5 cards ending the denomination is immaterial, be it 6♦ or 6NT.

E will duck (play the ♥2) when the first H is played toward the Q.

Then he simply covers N’s card – if N plays the ♥8 E will play the ♥9 (his lowest H at that point.)

If N chooses to play the ♥T E will cover with the ♥J.

In both cases, E will win the trick assuming N will not play the ♥Q from dummy – the logical play from N’s point of view – expecting to find W with Ax in hearts.

ArikJune 1st, 2009 at 7:43 am

Me again.

Just to clarify – when stating that the denomination is irrelevant I meant it to be in the narrow context of how the Heart suit should be played.

Of course, had the contract been 6NT, declarer would have had no other option but to finesse the CK once a a club was led.

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