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All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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Kit, you are correct in implying that I can’t be sure of the 9 tricks that I’ll take. I win the heart return, cash the diamond ace and lead a low diamond. If West shows out on the second round, I go up king and take the club finesse scoring 4 clubs, 2 diamonds, 2 hearts and a spade. If West follows suit, I cover his card in dummy. This loses when East opened 5=2=1=5 with 10 points. If so, I’ll resolve to tip my hat to the defense and accept -50.
Feb. 28, 2015
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OK, but “if we believe East would not open with A7xxx Kx QJ9x xx”, duck the heart king, win the heart continuation and lead the king of spades is fine too.
Feb. 28, 2015
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Talking about possible misunderstandings, could you clarify your earlier comment “True, but if WEST has the CK, I think you will be left in the same position as Kit is - trying to guess if East opened A76532, Kx, QJx, xx or AJxxx, Kx, QJ9x, xx. “
Feb. 28, 2015
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Michael, are you not paying attention to the comments made? Marc was operating under the simple assumption that East started with the jack of spades and my comment was in reply to his remarks.
Feb. 28, 2015
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Declarer’s timing of the play can make a significant difference, especially here where spades could be started from the closed hand. Duck the heart king, win the heart continuation and lead the king of spades. What is East going to do? Suppose he ducks. Switch to clubs now.
Feb. 28, 2015
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Not a good idea to lead a club early. Win the HA and cash 4 diamonds ending in South.
What is West keeping?
Feb. 21, 2015
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Yes, I agree.

Here is a flexible line: spade A-K, diamond A, club A, club ruff, heart K, club ruff (with the Q), heart A, spade. If the king of clubs has come down by this time, we are OK if West is 6=1=2=4 (as here), or 6=2=1=4. We are also in good shape if West is 6=3=1=3 or 6=2=2=3.
Jan. 25, 2015
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment Jan. 25, 2015
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Those shapes are covered with correct guesses.
Jan. 25, 2015
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No problem if West is 6=2=1=4 or 6=3=1=3 as long as declarer guesses correctly.
Jan. 25, 2015
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“In real life both lines were working so you didn't have to guess which to take”

Not true. On the actual layout where East has Q86 of clubs, if you switch the diamond 8 with the diamond 10, the contract goes down. When you lead the club ten at trick 2, West covers with the jack and East drops the queen under the king .No matter how you continue from that point on, you won't be able to score more than 8 tricks.
Jan. 23, 2015
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You are right, with ‘help’ you could make if West is 5=1=3=4 with both diamond royals. But instead of the club 3 return from East on which West might err and play the 8, I was thinking more in terms of East shifting to a diamond which seems normal and not too difficult to find. Also, if you play club king, heart ace and a spade, the same defense works when West is 5=0=4=4 with K-Q of diamonds.
Jan. 14, 2015
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“If diamonds are 3-3, we can make if KQ are in one hand - more likely to be West.”
I don’t see how you can make if West is 5=1=3=4 with K-Q of diamonds.

Now, back to the dummy play. Win with the club king and cash a top heart seems best. Suppose West shows out. Then what? Even though the bidding has not given a blueprint of the distribution, I am somewhat surprised than no one seriously considered playing West for 5=0=3=5. Can you succeed in that case? Yes, and the most interesting situation occurs when you judge that the diamond honors are split, assuming (of course) that East’s spades are weaker than H-H-9-x.
Jan. 14, 2015
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I have a quibble with your statement, “Consequently, cashing the red winners discarding a club and leading the jack of spades always makes unless West has Q98(x) of spades”.

If opponents might make a light vulnerable first seat opening bid, you need to be careful. Following your suggested line of play and assuming West pitches two hearts on the diamonds, if West is 3=5=2=3 and happens to have the jack of clubs together with Q9x (or Q8x) of spades, you will be in trouble. When you lead the spade jack covered by the queen and king, East will know that winning the ace allows you to endplay him, so he will duck. Down to three spades to the ten and king-ten of clubs, you have no winning option leading from dummy. No matter what you try, the defense takes the last 5 tricks.

Lines of play that eliminate guessing are indeed the most desirable. Unfortunately, on the present deal, South might have to guess right in the ending.
Nov. 15, 2014
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Good idea to eliminate all constructions where declarer has Jxx of spades, since what was said in the case where South is 3-5-3-2 is inaccurate (“I want to win and play a club. But I can't beat the hand unless partner has SJ or DQ”).
Nov. 11, 2014
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Michael, I suspect you will need resuscitation after East wins the diamond king and West turns up with the ace of clubs and cashes three more diamonds.
Nov. 4, 2014
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For down one, I agree with Steve that North should shift to a trump.

However, for down two, Steve’s suggested defense (“diamond ace, trump ace, trump”) looks a bit double-dummy to me. Suffices to exchange a low diamond from North with a low club from West to realize that the defense of returning a trump at trick 3 won’t work (declarer wins in hand with a middle trump and leads the spade from there). In that case, after winning the heart ace, South must lead a low club to the ten (say) and king, and North should continue clubs. Declarer has no option but to ruff and lead a high spade. After taking the ace, North has to cash the king of diamonds before reverting to clubs to set the contract by two tricks. This is not an obvious defense.
Oct. 19, 2014
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment Oct. 19, 2014
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Perhaps the whole discussion should be how to set it by two tricks and that's not totally obvious. One way is to play clubs, forcing dummy to ruff twice (but after winning the spade ace, West must cash the king of diamonds before reverting to clubs). That way East will score the jack of hearts. Another way is your suggested line of defense.
Oct. 19, 2014
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment Oct. 19, 2014
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Fair enough.
Oct. 18, 2014
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Michael, you make ridiculous assumptions (“Two things that will basically never happen is East not playing the spade 10 ten from 10x, and West flying with the 10 to prevent the entry. West will not even see it after the hand”) to justify bad plays.

Wouldn’t you feel silly if that average club player (in the West seat) would calmly insert the spade ten, forcing you to go down?
Oct. 18, 2014
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Michael, winning the first diamond in Kit’s solution may not be right (although it might block the suit on some hands). Suppose West has 1063/Qxx/KJx/Jxxx or a similar 3=4=3=3/3=3=4=3 hand. After a club to the queen and king, if East returns a low diamond, it seems to me that you need to duck (otherwise the defense could limit you to nine tricks). So you duck, win the diamond continuation and ? Assuming West is a decent player, you should not lead the spade four next. Instead, cash a top spade to confirm the bad break and lead your last diamond, hoping to score two diamond tricks when diamonds split 3-3 or when West remains with honor-x in diamonds. Of course, when East has a singleton trump and four diamonds, I can easily envision hands where South goes down if he leads a club to the queen at trick 2.
Oct. 17, 2014
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