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Breaking the Rules #4
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It's been a while since my last entry in this series.  Here's a hand from yesterdays club matchpoint game.

West
A84
KQJ872
96
86
North
East
South
Q1092
1043
AJ32
J4
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
A
3
6
0
0
1
6
8
K
2

You choose to lead the T (standard leads) against 4.  Ace from dummy, partner plays the 3 (UDCA) and 6 from declarer.  6, 8 from partner, K from declarer.  Win or duck?

It might be right to duck smoothly.  It looks like declarer is trying to set up a diamond for a spade or club pitch from the board.  Ducking leaves declarer with the challenge of getting back to the board for another diamond lead.  

You choose to win the A and continue with the 2.  Declarer wins partner's J with the K and leads a trump to the K and partner's A.  Partner leads a spade to your 9.  What now?

West
A84
KQJ872
96
86
North
East
South
Q1092
1043
AJ32
J4
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
A
3
6
0
0
1
6
8
K
A
3
1
1
2
4
J
K
2
1
2
5
4
J
A
1
2
2
5
7
9
8
3
3
2
5

 

 

 

 

Time to break the rules.  Given the 1NT opening, partner holds at most 7 HCP, and has already shown 5 (A, J).  Declarer is marked with the AK and Q (given his earlier play).  There are no more side suit tricks for the defense.  Time to break the "don't give up a ruff-sluff" rule by leading the 13th spade.  If partner holds the 9, declarer is going down:  if he ruffs high, your T is the setting trick, and if he ruffs low, partner overruffs with the 9.

West
A84
KQJ872
96
86
North
J53
A9
875
Q9732
East
K76
65
KQ104
AK105
South
Q1092
1043
AJ32
J4
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
A
3
6
0
0
1
6
8
K
A
3
1
1
2
4
J
K
2
1
2
5
4
J
A
1
2
2
5
7
9
8
3
3
2
5

What do you think of the bidding?  I used to claim that, given the right shape and honors in the suit, there is no hand that's too weak for a 1 bid and too strong for a weak 2.  Maybe this is that hand; it does seem too strong for a NVul Weak 2.  

What do you think of declarer's line of play?  It's risky.  Besides the line of play shown above, there are other ways this can backfire.  Even if the A is onside, if North ducks the first round, declarer can only get back to dummy by playing AK and ruffing a club.  That risks an overruff in the club suit.

Still, declarer reasoned that 3NT might be the contract at some other tables, especially if West chose to open 1.  As it turned out, +420 was only good for 33% of the matchpoints, so taking a risk for an overtrick probably makes sense. 

There is one other wrinkle:  in actuality South held T94 and North A3, so the lead of the 13th spade would not have worked.  Your lucky declarer (yours truly) escaped with +420.

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