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Variations On A Theme
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This very interesting hand came up in the 2019 Spingold quarter finals, 4th segment, between Spector and Lavazza.

West
95
KQ102
Q1054
965
North
AJ6
A764
K863
QJ
East
KQ1082
8
J7
K8742
South
743
J953
A92
A103
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
X
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
26
3NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
9
6
2
0
1
8
9
10
A
1
1
1
3
7
9
10
0
1
2
5
A
8
4
1
2
2
6
2
3
Q
0
2
3
6
Q
7
3
1
3
3
J
4
10
5
1
4
3
7
2
J
K
0
4
4
5
6
J
A
3
5
4
A
9
J
8
3
6
4
5
2
4
K
3
7
4
2
4
8
K
1
8
4
K
10
7
Q
1
9
4
N/S +600
13

East led the Q, ducked all 'round, after which he switched to the 8, 9, 10, ace.

At trick 3 declarer played a diamond to the 9 and 10.

West returned a spade, taken by the ace.

Now declarer ran the 6, losing to the queen, with east discarding a club.

This was actually the critical point in the hand (Trick 6). West switched to the 6, Q, 7, 3. But the hand was effectively all over now. Declarer ran the J, not covered, and then played the 7, 2, J, K.

Declarer won the diamond return with the ace, cashed the ace of clubs, discarding his J, followed by the 5, 2, 4, K  and then played a diamond to his 8, making 9 tricks (1, 2, 3 and 3).

At trick 6, if west had returned a diamond it would not have helped.

West
95
KQ102
Q1054
965
North
AJ6
A764
K863
QJ
East
KQ1082
8
J7
K8742
South
743
J953
A92
A103
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
X
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
26
3NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
9
6
2
0
1
8
9
10
A
1
1
1
3
7
9
10
0
1
2
5
A
8
4
1
2
2
6
2
3
Q
0
2
3
4
6
J
A
3
3
3
2
5
8
4
1
4
3
K
2
7
Q
1
5
3
Q
7
3
5
1
6
3
J
8
10
6
1
7
3
4
10
5
K
0
7
4
2
7
K
J
3
8
4
A
9
J
K
3
9
4
N/S +600
13

Declarer takes the J with the ace, plays a diamond to the 8, cashes the king and then plays Q then J (not covered), followed by the 4 to dummy's 5. Now dummy takes the last two tricks.

But observe what happens if west cashes the K at trick 6. Does declarer keep the J in dummy or unblock it? Suppose he keeps the J.

West
95
KQ102
Q1054
965
North
AJ6
A764
K863
QJ
East
KQ1082
8
J7
K8742
South
743
J953
A92
A103
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
X
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
26
3NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
9
6
2
0
1
8
9
10
A
1
1
1
3
7
9
10
0
1
2
5
A
8
4
1
2
2
6
2
3
Q
0
2
3
K
4
2
5
0
2
4
2
7
4
J
3
3
4
A
4
6
J
3
4
4
2
5
8
7
1
5
4
K
10
7
Q
1
6
4
Q
K
A
5
3
7
4
3
6
J
8
1
8
4
J
K
10
9
2
8
5
N/S -100
13

Now west must not play a club or a diamond, but must instead continue with the 4th heart.

Declarer will continue with A and a diamond to the 8, followed by the K. But now the spotlight is on east, whose last three cards must be K and Kx. When a club honour is led, east must cover, forcing declarer to win the next club in hand, and now east gets the last trick. (Alternatively, east comes down to K10 and K bare - same thing, because now the club cover is forced).

And if declarer does unblock the J?

West
95
KQ102
Q1054
965
North
AJ6
A764
K863
QJ
East
KQ1082
8
J7
K8742
South
743
J953
A92
A103
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
X
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
26
3NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
9
6
2
0
1
8
9
10
A
1
1
1
3
7
9
10
0
1
2
5
A
8
4
1
2
2
6
2
3
Q
0
2
3
K
4
2
J
0
2
4
4
6
J
A
3
3
4
2
5
8
10
1
4
4
K
4
7
Q
1
5
4
Q
K
A
5
3
6
4
3
6
J
7
1
7
4
7
8
5
2
1
8
4
J
K
10
9
2
8
5
N/S -100
13

Now playing the 4th heart won't work, because declarer wins in hand, and plays on clubs, with the diamond entry position fluid, whether or not east covers a club honour.

The winning defence now is for west to return a diamond. Declarer has to continue with a diamond to the eight, but as in the previous variation, east simply covers clubs the first time, stranding dummy's 10.

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