All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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Kit, if South has the hand you're suggesting and guesses correctly East's shape, he can make four hearts by putting pressure on the defense.
(a) if (as here) East leads the heart jack at trick 2 and West wins and continues hearts to prevent a ruff in dummy, declarer wins in hand and plays three more rounds of hearts. Then, on the penultimate trump, dummy retains four clubs and A-J of diamonds and East (who holds A-Q of spades, Q of diamonds and four clubs) is trump triple squeezed.
(b) if East cashes the spade ace before leading the heart jack to West's ace, declarer can succeed by a double squeeze.
Nov. 11, 2013
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Seems to me that if East cashes all the trumps, South can pitch two diamonds and a club, retaining K-x of diamonds, A-Q of clubs and three hearts. Then, if East leads a heart to the jack and follows with the heart nine (pitching a club from hand), South has an easy answer: he cashes the ace of clubs before switching to hearts and declarer must lose a diamond.
July 4, 2013
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Instead of criticizing so vehemently East’s efforts (“distinct lack of imagination”, etc), it would definitely be wiser to read more carefully the analysis presented in the article.
East had no clear-cut direction to take, but if (as Kit pointed out) he thought that on this auction West’s proper lead was the heart J from J-9-x, the club return is well justified. Suffice it to project South’s hand as Axxxxx/xx/AJx/Qx and one can easily see that switching to a club at trick 3 is the only way to defeat two spades.
May 18, 2013
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Kit,

I agree about the potential danger of finding East with six diamonds and five clubs (when declarer has a crucial guess to make). But if West ruffs at trick 5 with the queen and declarer pitches a heart from dummy, West’s best defense is a trump return. That’s because on a heart switch, irrespective of the location of the king of hearts, declarer takes the ace, ruffs a club low, ruffs a diamond, ruffs a club high, ruffs a diamond, draws the remaining trumps and loses a heart at the end.
April 26, 2013
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“Pitch a heart” doesn't work (East plays the king of clubs and you are down).
Cross-ruffing is an illusion: after losing the first two tricks, South will have to lose two more tricks.
April 26, 2013
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It is much better to ruff a diamond at trick 3, cross back to hand on a top spade and then play the king of diamonds. On the actual deal, when the jack appears from West, the play is essentially over. If West follows low, South pitches a heart from dummy and East is endplayed.
April 26, 2013
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In that case, keep following suit and don’t worry about the analysis.
April 25, 2013
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Here goes a pretty twisted solution:

Suppose declarer started with AKx/Ax/Jx/Jxxxxx. In that case, attacking diamonds looks better, but leading a small club at trick 2 would be the only way to succeed if East’s hand were Q9xxxx/xx/K9x/xx.

However, if East bid two spades with (say) Q9xxxx/xx/xxx/K3, to defeat the contract West must win trick 2 with the ace of clubs and return the spade ten. If West plays the club four and declarer finesses the 10, the contract is safe.
April 25, 2013
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Kit,

I did not assert that returning a diamond is clearly correct. It is if West has the same hand with J-x-x of trumps and probably whenever the opening lead (3rd and 5th) is not precisely from the 3-2 diamond doubleton. Let's not forget that according to your comment, “It is likely that partner has led a singleton diamond,…”
April 20, 2013
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On your construction, if declarer plays a spade to the ace followed by another spade and guesses right, the contract appears safe.
April 20, 2013
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How is East planning to defeat the contract if, as you say, West has 2 or 3 diamonds, a broken heart holding and the club ace?
April 20, 2013
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What if West has the same hand with J-x-x of spades (no nine or ten)?

If West’s trump holding is weaker than on the actual layout - the only case where the contract is at stake, returning a diamond at trick 2 is the only defense.
April 20, 2013
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On the first hand, the double dummy solution is based on a double squeeze where first East is squeezed among three suits, one of which (spades) is under pressure from a split vise menace. If East releases the four of spades on the 4th club, declarer leads a spade to the nine, queen and king, and the ace of spades later crashes East’s remaining spade jack.

If East has the same hand but with J-x-x of spades (no nine), the successful solution is based on another type of double squeeze where the clubs should not be cashed early. Instead, South wins the club ace, plays the queen of spades, covered by the king and ace, cashes the king-queen of diamonds, leads a club to the queen and takes a successful spade finesse against West’s nine. East takes the jack and must return a heart won by the ace. Declarer cashes the diamond ace (pitching a heart from North), crosses to dummy on the jack of clubs and cashes the king of clubs, discarding a diamond from the closed hand. East remains with Q-x of hearts and the jack of diamonds, while South with K-4 of hearts and a diamond. Meanwhile, West is squeezed by the king of clubs: since he needs to keep both spades, West must pitch a heart, thus abandoning his guard in that suit. Finally, at trick 11 declarer cashes the ten of spades squeezing East in the red suits.
April 20, 2013
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By looking at the East-West hands in the actual layout, one can easily see that the successful line involves a double squeeze: first East is squeezed without the count and only after he is forced to abandon his guard in hearts, South rectifies the count (by losing a diamond) to prepare for the squeeze against West. But this is double-dummy. Simply switch the king and jack of spades and you shold instantly realize that playing the clubs first doesn’t work.
April 19, 2013
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Barry is in Japan, so it may take a while to get his opinion on his revisited deal. However, as I fully detailed the play, it looks best to lead a low heart to the jack at trick 4. If it holds, I could believe that in the 1600 Games declarer may play just as you suggested and go down. However, if you are careful and count the sure tricks, you will realize that it is better to cash the ace of diamonds at trick 5, cross to the king of clubs and then lead a club from dummy, covering East's card. If East plays a quack, take the ace and continue clubs. West is endplayed. If West wins the club, what could he return to stop you from scoring the 9th trick?
April 17, 2013
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I don’t see any major complications. On the contrary, if at trick 4 declarer leads a low heart to the jack and it holds, he cashes the ace of diamonds, crosses to the king of clubs and plays a club from dummy, covering East’s card (if East plays a quack, declarer takes the ace and continues clubs). On this sequence, it looks like one way or another declarer ends up with 9 tricks.
April 17, 2013
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Declarer, who was reckoning on eight winners, had been unsuccessfully looking for the extra one up to trick 5. It may seem like a guess, but in fact, with the given information gathered from the early play, declarer is in excellent position to fulfill his contract whether LHO is 0=4=6=3 or 0=3=6=4. As the odds favor the club honors being split, South should cash the jack of spades at trick 6 putting pressure on LHO in three suits:
(a) if West pitches a club, South leads a club to the king and a club back to hand, covering East’s card; the 4th club in hand is good;
(b) if West throws a diamond, declarer simply crosses to the club king and plays a diamond; dummy’s 4th diamond is good;
(c ) if West discards a heart, declarer should cash the remaining hearts ending in dummy and: (1) if West follows to both hearts, South cashes the club king and leads a club from dummy, covering East’s club; the 4th club in hand is good (if East plays a quack, South takes the ace and continues clubs, endplaying West with the other quack); (2) if West started life with three hearts, on the heart play to the queen, West (who needs to keep both diamonds) is forced to pitch a club. Declarer now ‘knows’ to play the king of clubs followed by a club to the ace and another club, endplaying West.

BTW Steve, ducking a club seems OK, a club return from East won’t set the contract.
April 17, 2013
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Kit,

While I do agree with you on some issues, my whole point in this discussion is that you cannot (and should not) conclude with any significant degree of precision that “since East doesn’t have the king of diamonds” IT MAKES A SPADE CONTINUATION CORRECT. See my earlier supportive examples in this regard and I can easily produce more illustrations to confirm the ambiguity of the situations. I can understand that at the table you may want to continue spades from the West seat once East produces the king of spades denying the king of diamonds. That is fine, but the reasoning used to reach your conclusion (“it must be right to continue spades”) is on shaky grounds, to put it mildly.
April 15, 2013
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You just claimed that “if West has your AJxxxx/xxx/Kx/ xx, he will shift to the king of diamonds, since he can see that there is no future in continuing spades and that a diamond shift will defeat the contract if his partner has the ace of clubs and the queen of diamonds.”

Kit, if West has AJxxxx/10xx/Kx/xx, a spade continuation IS the killing defense when declarer’s hand is xxx/Kxxxx/Qxx/Qx.

You are operating in a random environment full of uncertainties, yet you seem to believe that unique deterministic actions provide the solution. Sometimes that is possible, but not in the case of this ill-posed defensive problem.
April 15, 2013
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Kit,

To summarize, according to you, with KQx/x/QJxxx/Axxx, East should play the king and let West work out what to do with the knowledge that East has the queen of spades. “If East has the king of diamonds he knows a diamond shift is right, so he would play the queen of spades from his KQx and get that diamond shift. SINCE HE DID NOT DO SO, HE DOES NOT HAVE THE KING OF DIAMONDS, MAKING A SPADE CONTINUATION CORRECT.”

Making a spade continuation correct? Now, what kind of a “demonstration” is this?

It’s been pointed out several times that if West bid two spades with AJxxxx/xxx/Kx/xx and East started with KQx/x/QJxxx/Axxx, your “correct” spade continuation would allow declarer to fulfill his contract, resulting in an unpleasant outcome for the defense.
No, with those East-West hands a spade continuation doesn’t work at all! West needs to switch to the king of diamonds.
April 15, 2013
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