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All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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By mistake I was operating with West holding Qxx of diamonds (without the 10). In that case West must lead a middle heart to beat 3NT and East must play the DK when declarer leads the diamond from the dummy
Nov. 18, 2012
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“Why would declarer bid 3nt with this hand?”
To make, obviously.

“I do not see why East would need to go up with the diamond king as long as he sees the need to unblock.
Continuing hearts is sensible but not strictly necessary on this layout since you have 2 diamond tricks coming.”

You should really try harder to see how the play goes if declarer has *S* AJ8 *H*72 *D* AJ9xxx *C*K10. Continuing with a MIDDLE heart at T2 is the only way to defeat the contract.
Nov. 18, 2012
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West should “rescue” himself, I guess. Playing declarer to have started with 3=2=6=2, say *S* AJ8 *H*72 *D* AJ9xxx *C*K10, West should continue hearts by leading the jack (or the ten). Meanwhile, East should also cooperate. East must pitch another spade at T2 and when South leads the D5 from the table, East must go up with the king. After these developments, declarer has no more resources.

Let’s note that on any other return at T2, declarer loses 2 diamonds and is in control.
Nov. 16, 2012
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You are welcome, Andrzej.
Nov. 4, 2012
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If you have J-8 of spades, pitch the 8. Why?

If declarer is 1=1=5=6 and his spade happens to be the nine, once you discard the SJ at T5, South takes the DK and the contract can be made. In the four card ending, LHO must keep three spades to the king and the DQ. Declarer runs the S9 (which West can’t cover) and then simply endplays West with a diamond.
Nov. 4, 2012
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Pitch a spade, playing declarer for 1=1=5=6 with A-K of diamonds (without the Q).

Incidentally, seems to me that with that hand an inspired declarer could have made the slam.
Nov. 3, 2012
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Following Henry’s directives, one shouldn’t post too many details yet. However, I think I’m authorized to suggest that you try placing LHO with the singleton HK and RHO with the singleton SK.
Oct. 31, 2012
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Since declarer needs some spade tricks, he must therefore play one opponent for the singleton SK. That gives him 4 spade tricks and the 5th spade can now act as a threat in a squeeze position. In addition, the minor suits must be favorably placed. As for the heart suit, declarer needs some heart tricks as well, so he must find one opponent with the singleton HK. All together, declarer has 11 tricks available and with threat cards in all 4 suits, he should be able to put enough pressure on the opponents to get the 2 extra tricks for the grand slam.

Easier said than done, but that is the plan!
Oct. 31, 2012
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Henry, I believe it’s Eric Mansfield, not Ed. Also, are you sure you have the correct North-South cards?
Oct. 31, 2012
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“The distribution was pretty well known, and the only question was how many of the missing jacks declarer had. Without the ?J declarer has no hope.”

If the black jacks are exchanged between West and South, after the D7 opening lead the contract can be made. Declarer is easily up to eight tricks, but he lacks the dummy entries to score the 9th trick with a spade. However, East is under too much pressure in hearts and clubs and declarer can succeed if he guesses the position.
Oct. 9, 2012
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“It turns out that had East ducked the spade lead declarer might have gone down. If declarer thinks that West has the ace of spades for his opening bid, he will insert the S10. West will win the SQ, and lead another club. On the second round of spades East will go up ace, lead a heart through, and get a heart ruff for down 1.”

If the idea is for East to score a heart ruff, effective defense requires care. If East follows with S3 and declarer inserts the S10 at trick 2, leading another club from the West seat is not likely to defeat the contract. If South plays a high club at trick 4 and pitches a heart, West has no counter.
To beat the contract in this scenario, West needs the lead the S7 after winning the SQ (DA and S7 is also fine and even a low diamond would work in that case).
Oct. 6, 2012
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If the DQ is ducked by declarer, switching to a small club followed by a spade also works for the defense (provided East plays the 10 on dummy’s low club).

Another great article, I concur.
Sept. 30, 2012
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RE Board 4, there is more than meets the eye to the postmortem analysis.

Prahalad, you said “I made the mistake of cashing the SK before leading a diamond winner”. That is certainly true on the actual layout where spades were 3-3. You are still under the impression that you needed spades to be 3-3 to make the contract, but that is not so. If South is 4=3=3=3 (just exchange a spade from North with a heart from South), following exactly the play at your table, you succeed only if you cash the SK at trick 8 and then lead a diamond. With 5 cards remaining, dummy has 2 spades and 3 clubs, while South is left with 2 spades, a heart and A-x of clubs. You have already taken 6 tricks and the defense won’t be able to stop you from scoring 2 more.

BTW, in this case declarer needs to win the opening lead in dummy, so you might say that the result on board 4 could have been reversed had South been dealt Q-J-10-x of spades, Q-x-x of hearts, Q-x-x of diamonds and A-x-x of clubs.
Sept. 28, 2012
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Ok, to make it a bit more specific, with the given dummy suppose East is 3=4=3=3 with K62 of spades and Kxx of clubs. You can easily convince yourself that sometimes it takes a spade shift at T4 to defeat 4S, but other times a club switch is needed for the defense to prevail. The bidding and early play are simply not sufficient to allow East to determine what’s best for the defense.
Sept. 25, 2012
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“East should only tell their partner not to play trumps (by playing a low heart) if they need partner not to play trumps.”

With 3=4=3=3 and the black kings, is East saying he doesn’t like partner to play trumps?
In defense, there are messages you can give your partner if you can sort out what is going on. On the present deal, even if they look deeply into the position, in the early stages of play things are unclear for both defenders.

Sept. 25, 2012
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RE deal 2, even if East shows “some club card”, switching to a club is not necessarily the right defense.

Good after-the-game hand analysis guys.

Following the heart opening lead and the diamond played at T2, if declarer is 7=2=1=3 with A-K of spades and A-10 of clubs, to defeat the contract West must win, cash HK and shift to a TRUMP. The same defense is needed if South is 8=2=1=2 with the SA and K-x of clubs or if South is 7=2=1=3 with A-J of spades and A-Q-10 (or A-K-10) of clubs.
Sept. 25, 2012
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Based on your adjustment, I assume that on the actual deal the West hand is unchanged but East’s shape is 4=3=2=4. In that case, since West’s 1=6=4=2 shape is pretty much marked by his bidding, provided he holds the expected club ace, 10 tricks are indeed available. Now, if you don’t want to play LHO for both diamond honors, after ruffing the heart, the best approach is to lead a low diamond at trick 3. Various scenarios can occur after that, but you can always prevail.
As an illustration, suppose West wins with the king and returns a heart. Ruff low, cash the diamond ace and lead the spade eight to the queen followed by a club. To fix ideas, let’s assume West takes the ace (if he ducks, you can continue with a low club from dummy). Down to 6 cards, both East and South have 3 spades and 3 clubs and with the king of spades and king-queen of clubs in dummy, you won’t have much trouble collecting the rest of the tricks.

For 10 tricks, observe that this line succeeds even if East started with Honor-x of diamonds whereas if you ruff the heart at trick 2 and lead a spade to the queen followed by a club, strong defense will limit your tally to 9 tricks.
Sept. 9, 2012
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Right you are, leading the spade eight to the TEN was indeed a silly suggestion.

I am not too sure about the ‘normal’ line of play in 3S (ruff in dummy at trick 2, play a spade to the queen, and lead a club to the queen) being able to guarantee 9 tricks. It does if LHO has the club ace, but if East has A-J-x of clubs and ducks at trick 4, I believe you go down if you follow that line when in fact 3S could be made in several different ways.
However, I agree that attacking clubs early is a good idea.
Sept. 8, 2012
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Heart ace, heart ruff, low diamond to the ten and king, heart ruff, king of spades, spade to the ten, diamond to the jack, ace of diamonds, king of clubs. In the four-card ending RHO is left with 2 clubs and 2 spades.
Sept. 8, 2012
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The squeeze play is elegant and satisfying, but…

Given the early play, to make the contract South doesn’t need to squeeze LHO. After heart ace, heart ruff, diamond deuce to the ten and king, heart ruff, South gets easily home by scoring 2 heart ruffs, 2 diamonds (via the finesse), 4 spades (via the finesse) and 1 club.

A farseeing declarer may be able to collect 10 tricks on this layout. The play for an overtrick is clearly more interesting and is based on the stronger approach of starting trumps early by leading the EIGHT to the ten at trick 3 followed by a club. Suppose West puts up the ace and returns the club six. After winning with the king, declarer leads the deuce of diamonds to the ten and West’s king and if West returns a heart, South ruffs with the king, cashes the club queen and then leads the spade four from the table. Down to J-9-5 of spades and two diamonds, East is forced to play the spade nine (or the jack). With A-Q-6 of spades, a diamond and the club ten, declarer takes the ace, finesses the diamond jack, cashes the diamond ace (pitching the club) and finally leads any card from dummy at trick 12 scoring the last 2 trumps.

For a full appreciation of how the full play develops, find out what goes wrong on the indicated sequence if declarer leads the spade four instead of the eight at trick 3.
Sept. 7, 2012
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