Join Bridge Winners
A Quarter-Final Hand
(Page of 5)

Here is a hand played in multiple events from Lille. Most pairs reached four spades, with silent opponents, and every one of these received a high diamond lead. Here was one of the many auctions:

West
North
J4
K65
Q10652
K43
East
South
AKQ753
J1043
A62
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
9
1

The opponents play upside down count and attitude, and lead ace from ace-king. How would you play the hand?

It looks like you will need two heart tricks for the contract, which will be easy if hearts are three-three, so you have to concern yourself with 4-2 heart splits. There seem to be three ways to tackle the heart suit:

A. Start with the heart ten. Maybe West won't cover with Qx in hearts.

B. Lead a low heart to the king, and low toward the J10 later.

C. Start with a low heart from dummy, toward your J10.

Two declarers (out of the eight reported on Bridge Base Vu-Graph) drew trumps and tried line A. This seems very poor to me. If you opt to play for Qx onside, then you should start on hearts early, threatening to trump the fourth heart in dummy. Consider this possible layout:

West
1062
Q2
AK43
J985
North
J4
K65
Q10652
K43
East
98
A987
J987
Q107
South
AKQ753
J1043
A62
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
9
2
0
0
1
5
3
Q
A
3
1
1
10
Q
K
A
2
1
2
9
A
2
4
3
2
2
J
2
5
7
3
3
2
3
8
6
8
2
3
3
8
3
6
J
1
4
3
5
8
5
3
3
5
3
K
10
6
7
3
6
3
Q
4
10
J
3
7
3
7
11

You do best, as declarer, to discard a club loser on the diamond. Now you are threatening to trump the fourth heart in dummy, and threatening a double squeeze. The opponents can stop the heart ruff with two rounds of trumps, but that leaves the squeeze. Hit the next button to follow a possible sequence.

Both A and B gain an extra heart trick when West has the heart ace short (six cases). B also works when the heart queen is short on your right (another six cases), or when West has the heart queen singleton. This might be a reasonable shot in a vacuum, but here West passed as dealer, yet appears to have the diamond ace-king, so playing West for the heart ace as well seems foolish, but line B caters to West holding the heart ace.

For Line C, you would ruff the diamond, play two rounds of trumps, ending on the table, and try a low heart. This gains when East holds the heart ace short (six cases), or the heart queen long (another five unlikely cases). It will also gain when East has the heart queen short or AQxx(x) in hearts, and the defense can no longer get their ruff.

Line C seems to be the best choice, by a fairly wide margin, yet no declarer chose this line. Let's follow the play at several tables where declarer preferred line B. You draw trumps as East discards the diamond eight on the third round, then play a heart to the king and ace. East shifts to the club jack. Where do you win this trick?

You want to lead towards your hearts, so it must be right to win on the board. You could play club ace, club king, heart, but retaining a club winner might prove useful, so you should run this to dummy. West plays the five and North wins the king. You lead a heart, and East plays the eight. Clearly you will play a high heart. Does it matter whether you play the ten or the jack?

Should West duck smoothly with Qxx in hearts, you might misguess the hand, so you want West to win, but it is hard to imagine West ever ducking in hearts. If you play the jack, East might well hold the ten, so West will surely win. Likewise, if you play the ten, East might hold the jack, and ducking would look pretty stupid. I don't think your choice matters.

Would your choice matter had East played the nine?

Yes! East would never put up an unsupported ten, since you might have a J9 guess. But East can, and should, play the ten from 109. Thus the nine denies the ten, and, as declarer, you must play the ten, the card you are known to hold.

Let's say you choose the jack, which holds. At some tables, West showed an even number of hearts, at others an odd number, so you can assume that West's heart order was not relevant.

You can play for hearts to split. Is there any way to cope with AQxx in hearts with East?

Possibly. If East started with at least four clubs, you can squeeze him. Run your trumps, reducing to a four card ending. If East ever discards a heart, you concede a heart, and might lose a diamond, but you still have the club ace and the good heart. Otherwise, you play club ace, club. If East wins the second club, you will score another heart, while if West wins it, dummy will win the diamond queen.

In this four card ending, you will have to commit yourself - leading another heart if hearts were 3-3 all along, or playing club ace, club, but you can postpone your guess until then.

At the table, this squeeze was the only line that would work, for the full hand was:

West
1062
72
AK743
Q85
North
J4
K65
Q10652
K43
East
98
AQ98
J98
J1097
South
AKQ753
J1043
A62
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
J
3
3
1
0
5
2
J
8
1
2
0
4
9
Q
6
3
3
0
K
10
5
8
3
4
0
4
7
K
A
2
4
1
J
2
5
K
1
5
1
5
8
J
2
3
6
1
A
3
6
7
3
7
1
8

Three East's tried the diamond jack at trick one, hoping the diamond would live and a heart shift, and heart ruff would set the hand (and hoping partner wouldn't decide the diamond jack was a singleton). Two of the declarers accepted the "gift", drawing two rounds of trumps, ending on dummy, and passing the diamond queen. The subsequent heart ruff set the hand. Only Bob Hamman looked deeper into the position. He suspected that East held four hearts for his signal, and so opted for the squeeze line. Hit the next button and follow the play.

Hamman was down to this ending:

--

6

Q10

43

7

103

--

A6

Since East had pitched a club, Hamman would succeed if he played club ace, club now, or after leading the last trump. Hamman did cash the club ace next, and West smartly dropped the queen, hoping that East held two heart winners. Was this a good play done quickly, or was the queen doubleton? Hamman was fairly sure that East had started with three diamonds. Was he 2-4-3-4 or 2-3-3-5?

This was Board 95 of a 96 board match, with the US trailing Sweden by four IMPs. Board 96 proved to be a nothing, flat board, so the match came down to this guess. Bob played ... a heart, and with that, bade the Nickell team adieu.

9 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top