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An Easy Defensive Problem
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Sorry if this belongs in the intermediate forum. A very good player I know got it wrong at the table so it can't be all that easy.

North
K1053
KQ5
Q763
Q5
East
QJ742
A9832
A95
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
3
P
P
X
P
P
P

Matchpoints. You are East. 2 was Michaels and your reopening double was optional.

Partner leads the A and you encourage. The 9 is won in dummy, declarer having followed with the 8 and 6.

Declarer leads the 5 from dummy and you pop the ace. Now what?

 

 

Partner passed the double and you can see the Q in dummy. Assuming declarer has AKxxxxx, partner must have J10xx or at worst Jxxx. If declarer has AK109xxx he can finesse partner's jack and pick up the suit if he has sufficient entries.

Assume partner has one trump trick at most and the K. You must get at least two diamond tricks for down one. (On a really good day, you may get three.)

So what's declarer's shape? If he has xx Jxxx -- AKxxxxx or xx Jxx x AKxxxxx, he's making the hand. So he must have one of these:

xx J Jxx AKxxxxx

xx Jx Jx AKxxxxx

Your play?

If declarer has xx J Jxx AKxxxxx you must underlead the A, win the diamond return, and play a top spade. If you play a top spade now, declarer can ruff high, cross to the Q, and pitch two diamonds on hearts. If you play ace and a diamond, partner can't get back to you for a spade play. Declarer can win the third round of diamonds, ruff a heart, and run the 10.

In reality, this wouldn't have mattered very much because you can make 4 and you're getting a poor score anyway.

If, however, declarer has xx Jx Jx AKxxxxx, underleading the A or a top spade right away both work. If declarer throws losing diamonds on spades, West can get a heart ruff. Declarer can ruff the spade high and pitch one diamond on hearts, but West can ruff the second heart and cash out the diamonds. This would have been a very good score because few EW pairs made 3.

When the hand was played, South had the ugly 2-2-2-7 so it should have been easy.

West
A9
764
K1042
J632
North
K1053
KQ5
Q763
Q5
East
QJ742
A9832
A95
South
86
J10
J8
AK109874
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
3
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

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