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Play Problem from the Trials

You are West in the contract of 3NT with no opposing bidding, on the lead of the 4 (4th best), plan the play:

Board 68
Vul: All
Dealer W

W EST
 



E AST
S 6 5
H Q 7 6 4 2
D A T 9 5
C A J


S A Q J 8
H K J
D K J 8 3 2
C K 5

 

S OUTH W EST N ORTH E AST
Jackson Cohen Sher Smith
-- Pass Pass 1 D
Pass 1 H Pass 1 S
Pass 2NT Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass  

It would appear that there are 9 top tricks if either the finesse is on or the s are 3-3. 2s, 2s, and either 1 with 4s or 3 with 2s (when the spade finesse succeeds twice, you can then knock out the A). If your initial choice fails, you can fall back on getting the diamonds right at a time when you will have more information about the distribution. But what about when your opponent is good enough to duck his K? Then you will have burned some options by returning to hand with a to take the losing finesse or alternately by knocking out the A next...

 

 

Make a choice before scrolling down to see the the full hand ...

 

 

 

Board 68
Vul: All
Dealer W

W EST
N ORTH
S 9 7 4 3 2
H T 3
D 7
C Q 8 6 4 3




E AST
S 6 5
H Q 7 6 4 2
D A T 9 5
C A J



S OUTH
S A Q J 8
H K J
D K J 8 3 2
C K 5
  S K T
H A 9 8 5
D Q 6 4
C T 9 7 2

 

S OUTH W EST N ORTH E AST
Jackson Cohen Sher Smith
-- Pass Pass 1 D
Pass 1 H Pass 1 S
Pass 2NT Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass  

 

Billy Cohen chose the slightly better odds of the spade finesse. His opponent did not find the duck that  may well have caused the contract to fail. On 3 rounds of spades, Cohen discovered that North had started with 5 spades to go with his club length, so he played him for diamond shortness and made the contract. Declarer in the other room played 3NT from the East side on the 2 lead. He chose the play. Now with 8 of South's cards known and only 7 of North's he was bound to go wrong in s.

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