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Deal of the Week (Dec 28, 2007) Click here for Archives

The Auction:
West  North  East  South
1♣     1♠       dbl*   2
2     3       pass   5
all pass

* - Negative double

West leads the ♣Q against your excellent 5 contract. You have the option of playing on spades, or trying to score heart ruffs in dummy. What would your line of play be?

The opponents have a total of 17 high-card points, West should have 11-12 and East should have 5-6. East has shown up with the ♣K, and is likely to have the Q, and maybe another jack. This means that West is a favorite to hold both the ♠K and the A. Under this assumption, you can virtually guarantee your contract.

After winning the ♣A in dummy, the key play is to lead a heart from dummy, and duck it completely. If a trump is led at trick three, the plan is to ruff two hearts in dummy and then inflict a strip-squeeze on West, reaching the following three-card ending:

 Kx Deal  
You will lead a heart to West's ace, who will have to play a spade. If West instead chooses to bare his ♠K in the three-card position, you will play a spade to West's king and dummy's ace, and play a spade back to your king. It is important to avoid ambiguity in the end position, and the way to do this is by obtaining a count on the West hand by ruffing all of dummy's clubs. Hence, it becomes crucial to win the trump switch at trick three with dummy's jack, ruff a club in hand, ruff a heart in dummy, ruff a club in hand, ruff a heart in dummy, and ruff the last club in hand. You will now know if West started with four or five clubs, and can read the position accurately.
 KJ6 Deal  983
 AJ76  Q1098
 8  1096
 QJ1063  K94

If East decides to break the strip-squeeze by returning a spade at trick three instead of a trump, you will be able to ruff three hearts in dummy after all!

Bridge Baron's double dummy solver points out that an initial trump lead would leave declarer with no recourse. After a club lead, continuing with the 3 is the only successful play. On this deal, playing the K is not fatal, as West can subsequently be squeezed in clubs and hearts, but if West had fewer than five clubs, it becomes necessary to withhold the K. The rest of the double dummy analysis is in accordance with the discussion above.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract on this deal is 4 by North-South.

Bridge Baron deal No : N1247-18052-17172-99785-30705-46421

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