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Deal of the Week (Nov 17, 2006) Click here for Archives

West   North   East   South
pass     2♣      pass    2
pass    2NT     pass    3NT
all pass

Playing a pair event, you open a 15-17 1NT. Partner bids Stayman and invites you to game. It is not automatic to accept the invitation, as you don't have a clear-cut maximum, and your hand lacks intermediate cards. Nevertheless, you decide to take the aggressive route and proceed to game.

The lead is a fourth best ♠3. Dummy has the deuce, so West has a maximum of four spades. You call for a low card, East wins the Ace after some consideration. East goes into the tank once more, and returns a low club. It is important for defenders to give honest information to each other, so East's play of low club strongly suggests the possession of the Queen. You stick in the Jack, which wins. You are now assured of 9 tricks in the form of 1 spade, 3 hearts (after forcing out the Ace), 2 diamonds and 3 clubs. Playing pairs, your task is to try to score an overtrick. You continue with a heart to the King, East wins the Ace and plays the ♠J. Any thoughts on the tenth trick?

You can establish a tenth trick in diamonds, but then your opponents will score at least 1 heart, 1 diamond, and 2 spades. Worse, they may score 1 heart, 1 diamond and 3 spades, turning 9 tricks into 8. So you need to look at alternate sources to score the tenth trick.

If West holds both the Queen and Ten of spades, there is not much you can do as the defense will eventually score two spade tricks. If East holds the ♠10 (East returned the ♠J, and is unlikely to hold the Queen), the spades are blocked, and they cannot score two spades immediately. The only way to come to ten tricks is to play a heart to dummy's Jack, and make the pretty but counterintuitive play of a low spade off dummy.

This play is safe, as you know that spades are 4-3 from the opening lead. If the defenders cash two spades, you will claim 9 tricks. Prospects look bright when East wins the ♠10 and plays a club. Conceding a spade has rectified the count for a squeeze against West. If West holds at least three diamonds along with the ♠Q, he will be subjected to a squeeze. All you need to do now is run your club and heart winners, and look out for the ♠Q. If West discards the ♠Q, the ♠9 will be your tenth trick. If the ♠Q does not appear, you play diamond Ace-King and claim the last trick with a diamond. If you are careful enough, you can arrange to win the last trick with the 2!

 Q873 Deal  AJ10
 963  A85
 Q105  J6
 763  Q10942

If you felt playing the ♣J at trick two was a premature move, you are right. If you win the club shift with the ♣A and play a heart to the Jack, East may very well persist with clubs after winning the Ace. You can finesse now and score ten tricks with relative ease by establishing a diamond trick, even if West has less than three diamonds, and no squeeze exists.

Careful defense can restrict declarer to nine tricks. There are many successful lines of defense. We leave it to you as an exercise to work them out. You can feel free to consult Bridge Baron's double dummy solver to help you.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract on this deal is 4. Needless to say, this is a silly contract. Scoring nine tricks in 3NT will produce an above average score, as some pairs may fail to reach game. If you manage to score ten tricks, you can be assured of a top score.

Bridge Baron deal No : N0806-85383-38185-53493-15525-71242

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