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Exciting Endplays in Swedish Teams Semifinals
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Last weekend, stage two of this year's Swedish Teams Championships were played. After regional qualifiers 60 teams qualified for the semifinals. The semis were played as ten different heats in nine different cities with Uppsala, 70 km north of Stockholm, arranging two heats. Each heat plays a round robin where the winner out of the six teams qualifies for the final played in the middle of next month.

Reigning champions and therefore the team to beat is team Michielsen (Hult, Cullin, Ola and Mikael Rimstedt, Bertheau, Wrang). Despite not containing the player giving the team its name (Marion played last year instead of Wrang) they still qualified easily for the finals after six handy wins. Per-Ola Cullin showed us why the team are favourites for the title with this beautiful piece of declarer play from the second match:

North
Q9862
1072
AKJ94
South
AK95
AKJ103
K
862
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
6
P
P
P

How would you plan the play in 6 after West leads the Q?

The slam hinges on playing clubs for no loser. Without bidding from East-West a mundane club finesse looks like the best choice. Considering West's weak jump overcall, that line of play did not appeal. Looking for alternatives Per-Ola ruffed the lead in dummy, lead a trump to hand and ruffed a second spade. A trump to hand saw West pitch an encouraging diamond and when Per-Ola cashed the AK he saw East follow with the 10 to the third round before pitching a discouraging diamond. This, together with a jump overcall vulnerable on QJxxxx placed the A with West. Instead of taking the club finesse, Per-Ola now cashed dummy's AK combination. When no Q fell he exited with a diamond for an endplay when the full deal was:

West
QJ8762
7
AQ94
73
North
Q9862
1072
AKJ94
East
1043
54
J8653
Q105
South
AK95
AKJ103
K
862
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
2
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
2
3
5
1
1
0
6
4
A
7
3
2
0
9
2
8
4
1
3
0
9
5
J
4
3
4
0
A
6
2
10
3
5
0
K
7
7
8
3
6
0
2
3
A
5
1
7
0
K
10
6
7
1
8
0
10
6
K
A
0
8
1
12 tricks claimed
N/S +1430
9

+1430 was worth 17 IMPs with the other table going down in the same contract. Note that a similar line can endplay East if he has the A if you don't cash the second high club. A diamond lead would also beat the contract legitimately as no endplay is then possible. This was found at a couple of tables but mostly when North declared after a Precision 1 opener. Well done to the West players that cashed the A on lead against slam!

In the last match, against Michielsen, I found myself declaring what looked like a routine 4. Once again it was shown that these contracts can be the most difficult ones:

North
AKQ
AK74
A6543
9
South
96
Q1085
Q82
Q1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
3
4
P
P
P

After my overbid of 4 both North and East thought for a while before passing. West lead the 2 and I had to find the best line. What would be your plan?

With diamonds behaving somewhat well this didn't look like much of a problem. I decided against East having 4-1-4-4 and ran the lead to the nine and ten before crossing to dummy with a spade for a low diamond towards hand. When East discarded a club I was in trouble. I stuck in the 8 but West won and played a second trump. I couldn't do better than winning in dummy, cashing two rounds of spades and playing a club towards hand. East rose with the K and played a third round of trumps. I won in hand and played the Q discarding a diamond from dummy but East could get out with the fourth spade and I had to lose a further trick in one of the minors for down one.

The full deal and play:

West
8754
62
KJ1097
72
North
AKQ
AK74
A6543
9
East
J1032
J93
AKJ654
South
96
Q1085
Q82
Q1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
9
10
3
1
0
6
4
Q
2
1
2
0
3
4
8
9
0
2
1
6
A
3
5
1
3
1
A
3
9
8
1
4
1
K
10
2
5
1
5
1
9
K
3
2
2
5
2
J
Q
7
7
3
6
2
Q
7
4
A
2
6
3
J
8
7
5
3
7
3
Q
K
A
6
1
8
3
9 tricks claimed
N/S -100
11

Could I have done better?

Absolutely! Despite getting the toughest opening lead (4 made at the other table after a club lead), I can still make 4 - at least if I don't play on diamonds. If I instead win the trump lead in hand and cross with a spade to lead a club towards hand, the following happens:

West
8754
62
KJ1097
72
North
AKQ
AK74
A6543
9
East
J1032
J93
AKJ654
South
96
Q1085
Q82
Q1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
9
10
3
1
0
6
4
Q
2
1
2
0
9
K
3
2
2
2
1
3
5
6
A
1
3
1
A
3
9
8
1
4
1
K
10
2
5
1
5
1
7
J
Q
9
3
6
1
Q
7
3
A
2
6
2
8

East can try to get out with the J but I can pitch diamonds from both hands and he is endplayed into helping me with the clubs. By playing a diamond at trick three I had lost an unnecessary trick and could not engineer this endplay anymore. While this line is a lot easier to find in the post-mortem maybe East's thinking over 4 gave his shape away?

Is there more to the deal than this?

Yes, as a nice variation happens if East lets go of his high spades earlier in the play:

West
8754
62
KJ1097
72
North
AKQ
AK74
A6543
9
East
J1032
J93
AKJ654
South
96
Q1085
Q82
Q1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
9
10
3
1
0
6
4
Q
J
1
2
0
9
K
3
2
2
2
1
3
5
6
A
1
3
1
A
10
9
8
1
4
1
K
3
2
5
1
5
1
7
J
Q
9
3
6
1
Q
7
3
A
2
6
2
2
8
7
4
0
6
3
10 tricks claimed
N/S +620
9

Here East instead exits with the 2 and I pitch a club instead of a diamond! This way, West is endplayed into giving me a trick with the Q. With the actual spade spots, it's very difficult to go wrong in the ending for declarer, but what if the deal looked a little bit different?

West
10753
62
KJ1097
72
North
AKQ
AK74
A6543
9
East
J842
J93
AKJ654
South
96
Q1085
Q82
Q1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
9
10
3
1
0
6
5
Q
8
1
2
0
9
K
3
2
2
2
1
3
5
6
A
1
3
1
A
J
9
7
1
4
1
K
2
2
10
1
5
1
7
J
Q
9
3
6
1
Q
7
3
A
2
6
2
4
9

If declarer is not keeping track of the exact spade spots, the 4 for sure looks like a low spade. Pitching a club is however fatal when West has kept the 3 so that East is the defender that is on lead to trick eleven!

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