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Deal of the Week (Jul 20, 2007) Click here for Archives

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

You reach 3NT after a straightforward auction. Plan the play after West leads the Q and East plays the 9. The scoring is IMPs.

You have two tricks in spades, two tricks in hearts and one in diamonds, so you need four tricks in clubs. A 3-2 club split will produce nine tricks easily, you should consider a 4-1 club break.

The missing clubs are ♣Q, ♣J, ♣9, ♣8, and ♣4. First, let us look at the situation where West has a singleton club. You cannot make the contract if West has the singleton nine, eight or four. If West has the singleton queen or jack, you can play a club to the ace while West plays his honor, and you can play a club towards the ten. The problem with this plan is that East would win with the other honor and return a heart, after which you will not be able to cash the ♣10 as well as return to dummy.

What about a singleton club with East? You obviously cannot handle the singleton four with him. A little thought tells you that you cannot handle the singleton queen or jack with East either; you can cash the ace, but West will have the Q98 remaining, which is good for two more defensive tricks. If East has the singleton nine or eight, you can succeed by running the ♣10. If it is not covered, you will simply concede a club. If it is covered with the jack, you will win the ace and then play a club to the seven and eight. West can return a heart, but you will return to hand and play a club, finessing the five if West plays the four! This safety play costs nothing, but gains a lot when East has the singleton eight or nine.

 Q9 Deal  J1082
 QJ1052  986
  KJ   Q10753
 QJ84  9

While this is not a complicated deal in comparison to many other deals featured in this column, the club suit combination is counterintuitive, and many players would overlook this safety play at the table.

The double dummy analysis confirms that running the ♣10 (or playing a club towards the ten) is necessary to make the contract.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract is 3NT by North-South

Bridge Baron deal No : N1872-41234-81711-96725-47137-55592

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