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Deal of the Week (Feb 15, 2008) Click here for Archives

The Auction:
West   North   East   South
1      2         2     3NT
all pass

Most players would open the South hand with 1NT, but the actual call of 1♣ is not unreasonable. North had a tough choice to make: a negative double is flawed with only three spades; pass is too conservative; he chose to overstate his values by bidding 2. It worked out well, as South was happy to bid 3NT, ending the auction. How would you go about making nine tricks after receiving the 7 lead which goes to the jack and queen?

You have five sure tricks, two hearts, two top clubs and the A. If the K is singleton with West, you can score five diamond tricks, but that is an anti-percentage chance.

You are odds on to be able to set up four diamond tricks by knocking out the K, but the opponents would then clear your last heart stopper, and you would be at the mercy of a miracle position in clubs. In clubs, you can set up three extra tricks with some friendly holdings, such as singleton Q or J with West, or QJ doubleton with either player, or QJx(x) with East, but again three more tricks is not enough. If one of these positions existed, you would be able to pick up the club suit without relinquishing control of the hand and then knock out the ♠A to secure your ninth trick.

The problem with both the above lines is that with either of them, if the opponents obtain the lead they will clear your last heart stopper and the hand will be an open book. Your best bet is to try to sneak a trick past the defenders early in the game by playing a spade, before the full hand becomes obvious to the opponents. If you can successfully sneak a spade trick by, then you can play for the odds on three additional tricks in diamonds. Also note that even if the defender is alert and plays the SA, you can still fall back on the club position or the singleton K, so you aren't giving up anything.

 A654 Deal  J873
 K10873  J962
 J3  K9
 J5  Q74

An alert West should ask himself why are you playing spades instead of going after dummy's long suit, diamonds? The answer is that you are trying to steal a ninth trick, so a thoughtful West should get the defense right. In practice, most defenders would automatically play low when you lead a spade, so you have a good chance of making the contract.

Bridge Baron's double dummy solver points out that West's opening heart lead was required to beat the contract, even though it gives up a trick. The double dummy solver points out that the contract cannot be legitimately made on the actual lie of cards after the heart lead. After stealing a spade trick at trick two, the analysis confirms that the contract can't be beaten, provided declarer plays on diamonds and not clubs.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract on this deal is 4 by North-South.

Bridge Baron deal No : N2685-77725-85997-59673-83413-91531

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