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Helpful Discard
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This hand is from the various Final matches at the World Championships.  At the table I was watching, the auction was quick:

West
North
J
AJ108652
5
J1085
East
South
K643
K974
K6
K43
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
J
A
4
2
0
1
10
K
A
5
0
0
2
Q
J
2
6
1
1
2
3

 

West leads the spade seven (3rd and low) to the ace.  East shifts to the diamond ten, covered by the king.  West wins the ace and continues with the diamond queen.

 

Plan the play.

Two losers already, and a rather holey club suit to negotiate.  Still, we have plenty of entries, and can strip out the hand easily before tackling clubs, which will increase our chances.  Let's see, trump to hand, spade ruff, ace of trumps, trump to hand, spade king, spade ruff.  That will leave us on the table in this ending:

North
6
J108
South
4
K43

And we will see what we have learned along the way.

 

So, you play the trump ten to hand, with East producing the singleton queen, spade king, trump a spade, trump to hand, as East discards the club six, diamond three from West, spade ruff.

West
North
J
AJ108652
5
J1085
East
South
K643
K974
K6
K43
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
J
A
4
2
0
1
10
K
A
5
0
0
2
Q
J
2
6
1
1
2
10
Q
K
3
3
2
2
K
2
5
5
3
3
2
3
Q
8
8
1
4
2
5
6
7
3
3
5
2
6
10
2
9
1
6
2
8

 

We have reached the key ending: 

North
A6
J108
South
94
K43

 

How do you tackle clubs?

That club discard was quite odd, and helpful.  East would never pitch a club from some vulnerable holding like Qxx, and we can be pretty certain that clubs were originally 2-4. 

There are two obvious ways to go from here:

(1) Club to the king, club.  This works when West started with Qx in clubs, 4 cases.

(2) Run the club jack.  That works when West started with the club nine and any other club except the queen.  Also 4 cases.

 

Looks like a wash.  Does the bidding offer any clues?

 

The club jack gains when East holds a hand like Axxx Q 109xx AQxx.  That's marginal, but most players would open that hand in first seat.  

What about West?  We are assuming West started with a hand like Q10xx x AQJxxx ??, yet never acted.  I don't see West holding the club ace.

 

To put it another way, the bidding strongly suggests that West does not hold the club ace, and that East does not hold the club ace and queen

So, line one it is - club eight to the king.

The full hand:

West
Q1072
3
AQJ843
Q2
North
J
AJ108652
5
J1085
East
A985
Q
10972
A976
South
K643
K974
K6
K43
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

What do you think of the auction?

Well, with the diamond finesse onside, four spades seems like a make (but the defense can give declarer some guesses), so E-W got this one quite wrong.  Still, I don't see either player doing much differently.  The hand was played six times across the various finals, and only Baker's squad, in the Women's, bid to four spades.

As for N-S, transfers have their moments, but hands like this are much better concealed.  Your chances of making four hearts go up if you play it, as illustrated in the Seniors.  Lair, playing four hearts from the North seat, ruffed the second diamond and led the spade jack.  Not surprisingly, East ducked.

Oddly enough, in the six times this hand was played, hearts were declared by South four times.

What do you think of the defense?

 

East had quite a tricky problem at trick two.  If declarer holds the trump king, then the defense needs to score three minor suit tricks to set the hand.  That means two clubs and the diamond ace, or two clubs and a ruff.  

 

If you were certain that there were no trump losers, then you would shift to a low club at trick two.  Unfortunately, declarer might hold a hand like Kxxx 9xx KQx KQx, where the contract was down one off the top, provided you didn't lose the diamond ace.  I really don't see much to persuade me between the diamond shift, and the club shift.  Three of the four defenders tried the diamond ten, while Martens tried the club six.  However, declarer guessed the clubs, for a push in the Seniors.

 

East's club discard on the problem hand was quite poor, and simplified declarer's work.  Without that discard, South might easily opt to run the club jack, playing East for a hand like Axxx Q 109xxxx Qx.  

 

Of the three declarers faced with this end position, two got it right, Duboin and Remen.  Duboin scored up four hearts doubled, to win 12 IMPs. Remen was the only player pushed to the five level, and doubled.  Her careful play held the loss to two IMPs, when four hearts failed at the other table.

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