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Interesting Trick 3 Problem
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Andy Morris of Sussex (a county in the South of England) showed me this interesting problem from a recent Swiss Pairs event:

North
7
AQ64
AKQJ93
Q9
South
AKQJ103
J52
54
J8
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
4
P
P
X
P
4
P
P
P

Like most pairs events in the UK the scoring was by matchpoints, but for the purposes of this problem assume IMP scoring.

West leads 10 to his partner's K and follows suit with 6 when East continues with A.  East now leads 7.  What do you play at trick 3?

 

Here's the full hand:

West
986542
1097
82
106
North
7
AQ64
AKQJ93
Q9
East
K83
1076
AK75432
South
AKQJ103
J52
54
J8
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
4
P
P
X
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Most declarers understandably ruffed the third round of clubs high, which easily leads to eleven tricks against a 4-2 trump break and ten against a 5-1 break.  In practice they received a rude shock when they started to draw trumps.  At trick 3 West had discarded a diamond, so he was able to ruff the second round and lead a heart.  Declarer could only take one discard on dummy's diamonds, so the defence was able to win K as well as four tricks in the black suits for two down.

When Andy Morris was sitting West declarer realized that ruffing high would set up a second trump trick if the suit broke 6-0, so he discarded a heart.  Unfortunately this didn't turn out any better when West threw a diamond.  Declarer ruffed in dummy, but had no way back to his hand to draw trumps.  He tried two rounds of diamonds, but Andy ruffed, led a heart and the defence still took five tricks.

The winning play at trick 3 is to ruff with 3.  If West overruffs and leads a heart, declarer can win with A and use dummy's 7 as the entry to draw trumps.  If West discards, declarer plays off his trumps (discarding all of dummy's hearts) and switches to diamonds, after which West can only win his long trump.

Sometimes it's right to send a boy to do a man's job ...

 

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