Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

How do you play this hand

 Playing in a fairly high quality team game you are tied going into the last board.  You are South and you’re vulnerable against not. After West passed, partner opened 1 , East passed and you bid 3NT ending the auction. 





You get a very helpful lead of the  10.  You play low and East wins the  A and returns the  2  You win in hand with Q while East plays the  3 and play a club to dummy’s ♣ J.  East showing out with the  4.  How do you proceed?  Think about it before reading on.

Looking at the hand and the play so far it seems very unlikely that West started with four diamonds.  He is known to have four clubs and it really looks like he has four hearts.  If he has four diamonds his partner would be 6-4 in the majors and probably would have bid something.  Also West might well have lead a diamond.

You have seven top tricks.  If you can make two diamonds you are home.  Since you  have hearts stopped two more times if you can make one diamond trick while retaining a heart stopper you can make your ninth trick by conceding a spade. 

Suppose you play a diamond to 10.  If this holds or loses to the A you can revert to spades to guarantee nine tricks.  The opponents can’t take more than two diamonds and a spade.  If it loses to the Q West returns a heart.  Now lets’ play a diamond to the K.  If this wins once again you revert to spades.

Even if the spade finesse loses you aren’t going to lose two more diamonds. If West has a diamond to return than they are 3-3 (based on previous analysis).

If the  K loses to the A, West returning more hearts, you can try the J to see if they are 3-3.  If that fails you try the spade finesse as your last chance.  It seems to me that this only loses when West started with the AQ doubleton of diamonds and the  K.

I can think of other lines but this one stills seems best to me.  Any thoughts?  Here was the whole hand.

♠ QJ9 
♥ A75 
♦ J62 
♣ KJ32 
♠ K42 
♥ 10863 
♦ Q5 
♣ 10987 
♠ 10965  
♥ J942 
♦ A974
♣ A
♠ A73 
♥ KQ 
♦ K1083 
♣ Q654 

At the table we didn’t quite get this right.  Declarer started out by playing a diamond to the 10 losing to the queen and later a diamond to the jack losing to the diamond ace and subsequently taking the spade finesse.  Still we won the match because at the other table they got a heart lead and failed to find the stiff ace of clubs.  They went down two.


Jeff LehmanFebruary 24th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Seems likely to me that West has one of the following distributions: 4=4=1=4, 2=4=3=4, or 3=4=2=4. (Caveat: that might be reading too much into East’s return of the H2, as that could be from a suit longer than four cards.) In all three of these distributions, it is pretty easy to make a second diamond trick, to add to three clubs, three hearts, and SA.

Accordingly, I agree with you that I would travel to dummy’s club to take a diamond finesse at Trick 3, win the heart return, give up a diamond to the other high honor, and then, when next in dummy, hook the D8.

MikeFebruary 25th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Seems to me after playing D twice from the board, you have no entry to the board to take the S finesse if the D K holds, and you have to play S from your hand.

lindaFebruary 25th, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I assume the play would go like this. Club to Ace. Win the heart return. Club to dummy. Diamond to 10. Win the heart return. Club to dummy. Diamond to Diamond king which holds. Spade from hand. ( for eventual ninth trick). If the spade is won by east he cant do anything much. If he has a diamond the suit is 3-3. If won by West and diamonds are 4-2 he can beat you but then he passed with the CA stiff, the SK, the DA and 4 hearts which seems unlikely

Ted BartunekFebruary 28th, 2012 at 1:15 am

At the table, I’d have led the DJ at trick 3. Heart return. CQ then CK, let East find 2 more discards. He may err or at least give a greater confidence level as to the Diamond situation. Now a Diamond from dummy, East must duck or you have 9 tricks. (If West wins the DA win the return on the board and take the Diamond finesse.) DK wins then a small Spade from hand. Whenever you get to the board with the spade, cash the HA and lead your last Diamond from the board.

Unless I’ve missed something (quite possible!) this only fails if it turns out Diamonds are 3-3, and West has the AQ9.

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