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US Team Trials Semifinals Set
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On Wednesday, the US Team Trials saw the exit of four more teams, including #3 FLEISHER at the hands of #6 LEE.  Also advancing to the semis are #1 NICKELL, who came back from a 58-IMP halftime deficit against #8 SPECTOR, #2 DIAMOND, and #5 MILNER.  

Roger Lee, the captain of the 4-handed LEE team, was happy to share a hand from his upset victory:

West
Demirev
QJ8
Q1074
A9
Q1082
East
Lee
102
A53
K754
AKJ4
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
A
2
2
0
1
2
5
J
A
1
1
1
2

3 was Puppet Stayman, asking for a 4-card or 5-card major; 3NT denied holding even a 4-card major.

Lee received the lead of the 5, attitude.  You can follow the early play by clicking NEXT below the hand diagram and see what Lee saw.  After winning the diamond shift in dummy, how would you continue?

Demirev
J8
Q1074
9
Q1082
Lee
10
A53
K74
AKJ4
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

It looks like it will come down to a heart guess for the 9th trick.  But Lee started thinking about East's shift at trick 2.  With A9 in the dummy, and with East likely holding the 10 from the defensive carding, it seemed odd for East to shift from the spades ... unless East was looking at the majority of the defensive assets and knew West's spades could not be set up for an entry.  So Lee concluded that East must hold the K and probably the J, and proceeded to play for a strip-squeeze.  

West
Demirev
QJ8
Q1074
A9
Q1082
East
Lee
102
A53
K754
AKJ4
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
A
2
2
0
1
2
5
J
A
1
1
1
8
K
10
3
2
1
2
10
4
3
9
2
1
3
6
K
8
4
3
2
3
A
5
2
3
3
3
3
4
6
Q
9
1
4
3
J
2
3
6
1
5
3
8

Lee led another spade to set up his 8th winner, East winning the K.  He then ducked the 10 return to make East the sole protector of diamonds.  Winning the third diamond, Lee crossed to dummy in clubs to cash his spade winner.  On the third round of spades, East unexpectedly showed out, discarding a heart.  This was the final position with North (dummy) on lead:

West
972
9
7
Demirev
Q107
108
East
KJ86
Q
Lee
A5
7
KJ
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Now two rounds of clubs ending in hand gave East an unpleasant choice.  He could choose to discard his Q and set up declarer's 7, or keep it to be thrown in with it to lead away from the K.  +600.  The full hands:

West
976543
9
J83
765
Demirev
QJ8
Q1074
A9
Q1082
East
AK
KJ862
Q1062
93
Lee
102
A53
K754
AKJ4
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
A
2
2
0
1
2
5
J
A
1
1
1
8
K
10
3
2
1
2
10
4
3
9
2
1
3
6
K
8
4
3
2
3
A
5
2
3
3
3
3
4
6
Q
9
1
4
3
J
2
3
6
1
5
3
8


At the other table, the auction also started with a strong notrump and Puppet Stayman, but Levin/Weinstein play that 3 denies a 5-card major but could still have a 4-card major, so South rebid 3 instead of 3NT.  North bid 3 to show 4 hearts, and South rebid 3NT, denying 4.  Knowing that his partner held at least 5 hearts, West was now able to find the 9 lead.   While declarer could still make by ducking the A at trick 1 to retain the heart endplay position, it was much less obvious at this table.  He eventually went down 1, giving 12 IMPs to the LEE team.  

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