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Deal of the Week (Jun 13, 2008) Click here for Archives

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

This deal came up in the finals of the 2008 US team trials held recently. Aubrey Strul held the West cards, and chose to lead the ♣7 against 3NT. Dummy played the ♣5, partner the ♣2 (standard carding), declarer winning with the ♣9. Declarer leads the 2. Do you win the ace? If so, what do you lead to the next trick? If not, what is your reasoning?

The intuitive play is to duck the heart, in an attempt to kill the entryless dummy. Before doing so, let us examine the evidence available to us. Partner followed with the ♣2 to trick one. Typically, the play to trick one is an attitude signal. However, since partner failed to beat dummy's card, his attitude is known; his play should therefore be a count signal, showing an odd number of cards.

Dummy's play to trick one is also important - why did declarer follow with the ♣5 instead of the ♣J? With any four card holding like Kxxx, K9xx or K109x, declarer would have called for the jack. The conclusion here should hence be that declarer has Kx in clubs. Consequently, you should reject the intuitive play of ducking the heart, and should go up with the A and cash the ♣A.

From another perspective, declarer should typically have 18-19 balanced for his bid, partner therefore can just have a king or a queen. If declarer has fewer than 18 points, then he will have source of tricks in diamonds to back his bid up. In either case, declarer threatens to take nine tricks by way of sheer strength (or tricks in the latter case). In the former case, i.e. when declarer has 18-19 balanced, assuming that partner has a diamond honor, declarer has four spades, one heart, one club, and three diamonds (after finessing partner's honor). In the latter case, when declarer has 16-17 points (as in the current hand) along with 6 diamond tricks, ducking the heart will concede the ninth trick.

Strul rose to the occasion, and found the winning defense at the table.

 984 Deal  KQ3
 A1093  85
 32  1084
 AQ87  106432

Partner made more than his share of contribution to the defense, by withholding the ♣10, and also giving you count in the club suit. Declarer's play of ♣5 from dummy at trick 1 is noteworthy, putting East under the spotlight; if East automatically plays the ♣10, "third hand high", the contract could not be defeated. At the other table, the declarer called for the ♣J from dummy, after which it became easier for West to find the winning defense.

A double dummy analysis is not applicable for this deal, as knowledge of all four hands trivially provides the answer.
Par Contract Analysis:
Interestingly enough, the par contract on this deal is 3♠ by North-South.

Bridge Baron deal No : N5038-26217-37459-78937-90531-04056

You can download this deal in PPL format, and view it with Bridge Baron here :
Deal Of The Week
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