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I love hands where you make tricks with distribution rather than high-cards. I was South on this hand played in a team game last month in a regional at the USA Air force base in Dayton, Ohio. Contract: four spades. How would you play it after a low club lead? 

 

AK542

53

9653

K2

 

J83

AKT4

J4

AQJ3

 

 

AK542

53

9653

K2

 

J83

AKT4

J4

AQJ3

 

If spades are 3-2, no problem. But what if spades are 4-1? A safety play in trumps, leading to the jack did not look safe, as they could switch to diamonds. In the meantime, I had to decide where to win the first trick. Winning in hand would be good if I needed to take a double heart finesse, but winning the king in dummy was better so as not to block up the club suit. If trumps were 4-1, there was the chance that i could score 10 tricks by cashing four club tricks and ruffing two hearts in dummy. I'd have to ruff a heart first and come back with a club to my hand. So I won the king of clubs and cashed the ace-king of spades. East showed out, throwing a diamond. Then I led a heart toward my hand and East played the jack. I realized he held both the queen and jack, and was sorry I had not kept the club king in dummy. But then, did it matter? I was going to make my tricks by ruffing. Here was the full hand:

        AK542

        53

        9653

        K2

 

Q976            T

962              QJ87

A8                KQT72

T854            976

 

        J83

        AKT4

        J4

        AQJ3

 

I won the ace of hearts and cashed the king, then ruffed a heart. Next came the clubs and West followed, so I made the contract, leading the ten of hearts at trick 10. West held two high trump and A-8 of diamonds, and dummy had two small trump and two little diamonds, but I had to score a tenth trick no matter what West played.

The twist on this hand is that East could have deceived me successfully if he had followed with the queen of hearts on the third heart, setting up my ten. Then I would have thought that West was 4423 shape instead of 4324. I would have tried to cash the ten of hearts before the fourth club. But West would ruff and lead ace and a diamond.

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