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Some contracts look pretty good when dummy comes down. The following hand is not one of them.

Try this play problem from the 2016 World Youth Teams Bridge Championships:

 

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

After East’s overcall, you contented yourself with 2, but partner’s… aggressive game-try double propelled you into 4.

West leads the Q and continues hearts. What’s the play?

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

There are a range of issues to consider.

To start with, there are three unavoidable top losers. You can’t afford to lose a second trump trick, meaning this shaky 4-4 fit will have to played for one loser.

In addition, your side suit needs a bit of love. The clubs will need to break 3-2, and there is the small matter of the Q to consider.

Finally (?), you are in danger of losing trump control. The opponents led hearts from the right side, neutralising dummy’s heart guard, and they will get in at least one more time to continue hearts and shorten the trumps in the South hand.

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

How’s your thought process coming along?

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

It’s easy to give up hope in these types of situations. The hand is complicated, prospects are dim, and partner is a fool for doubling 3.

Rewind... instead of ‘partner is an idiot’ or ‘well, let’s try and make sure we don’t go two down’, let’s work out a semi-reasonable plan to make the hand. The beauty of IMPs is that all-out plays to make the contract (provided they aren’t totally ridiculous) offer a much higher reward than other forms of scoring.

Luckily, you’re representing your country in a world championship, which means IMPs is the game. Let’s get started:

Trumps need to be favorable. Without much to go on, the 2-level overcaller is more likely to have the trump Ace, and it will need to be doubleton for us to have much of a chance.

Can we attempt to draw trumps with this flimsy holding?

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

North
K654
K62
Q987
K10
South
Q987
9
K6
AJ9