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Deal of the Week (Dec 15, 2006) Click here for Archives

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

* Negative Double

West led the ♠J. South won the spade lead in hand, and played the King and Ace of Clubs, drawing all the missing trumps. Declarer started eliminating the hand, and unblocked the Ace and King of Diamonds. He now cashed the ♠K and ruffed a spade, and was disappointed to see West discard a heart. If West had held four spades, he could have been thrown in with the fourth spade; a diamond ruff in dummy would have completed the elimination, and declarer would have led the fourth spade discarding a heart from hand, leaving West on play.

Since that plan did not come through, declarer ruffed his diamond in dummy, and played a heart. When East alertly contributed the 10 to this trick, declarer knew that the contract had no further chances. He played the K, West won the Ace and quickly cashed two more heart tricks to set the contract.

"I was very unlucky, if West had held four spades, he would have been endplayed", South complained. "Alternatively, if West had carelessly discarded a diamond when I ruffed a spade, he could still have been thrown in with the Q. And finally, if West had AQJ10 of hearts, I could still endplay him. When I led a heart from dummy, if East played a small heart, I would have ducked it to West. I tried my best, but they defended very well, the contract cannot be made". "3NT is laydown", observed North thoughtfully. "Yes, there are 9 top tricks", agreed South. "I could not respond 1NT, as I did not have diamonds stopped. If you cue-bid 2, I would bid notrumps".

Do you agree with South's remarks?

South won the spade lead in hand, and drew trumps with the King and Ace. He cashed the Diamond Ace-King, and the ♠K. A spade was ruffed, West discarding a heart. Declarer ruffed a diamond in dummy. If West has the Ace, Queen and Jack of hearts, the contract is cold. This is the likely position:

 - Deal  Q10
 AQJ4  102
 Q  J
 - ♣- 

Declarer should ruff the ♠8 with the ♣Q. West has no good answer. If he discards the 4, declarer will exit with a small heart which West will win perforce, and lead away from the A, or play the Q conceding a ruff and discard. If West discards the Queen or Jack of hearts instead, declarer spectacularly exits with the heart King. The defense can win two heart tricks, but cannot take a third trick.

It looks as though the discarding Q will save west, but it will only prolong the agony by another trick. Declarer will lead a club to the ten, catching West in a classic one-suit squeeze. If West discards a low heart, declarer will duck a heart, and West has to lead away from the A. If West discards a heart honor, declarer will play a low heart from dummy. If East plays low, the 8 is inserted and West is caught in the familiar dilemma. If East plays the ten, declarer covers the King, and the 9 and 8 are good enought to force one more trick from West's J and 4.

 J3 Deal  Q10972
 AQJ64  102
 Q1086  J972
 J9  83

Regarding the bidding, it is true that North could have probed towards 3NT, but South's 2♣ rebid was the main culprit. With a balanced hand, a heart stopper, and relatively weak clubs, 1NT is the correct bid. The lack of a diamond stopper does not warrant a 2♣ bid, which usually promises a sixth club.

Bridge Baron's double dummy solver concurs that the one-suit squeeze is the only way to make the contract as the cards lie.

Bridge Baron's Line of Play
Bridge Baron missed the 3NT contract too and bid up to 5♣, but performed better in the play, finding the one-suit squeeze to make the contract.

Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract is 5♣ by South.

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Bridge Baron deal No : N1527-12722-56281-82028-28520-81073

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