On Thursday we played swiss teams, eight rounds of six-board matches. Two first rounds we won our matches against average standard opponents. The third round opponent was already much stronger, team captained by Gaylor Kasle, but we kept on winning. The following board had a challenging declarer play problem.
Joshua Donn started with the nine of hearts, attitude leads. What is your general plan?
Establishing the diamonds is not a good idea. You can make four diamond tricks only if North has honour-ten third in the suit. Most often you can make three diamond tricks. Three hearts and two spades brings the total up to eight. If you try to establish the ninth trick from clubs, the defenders might take two diamonds, two clubs and one heart. So, it’s much better line to start with the clubs. If I can make two club tricks, three spade tricks are enough to make the contract. How should you handle the club suit?
If opponent’s clubs are 3-3 or if the nine is doubleton, there is no problem. If North has an honour doubleton, you can make two club tricks only with good guessing. If South has Ax or Kx of clubs, you succeed if you play twice low club from your hand. So, I took the lead in my hand with the Jack and continued with a low club, South took the King and continued with the two of diamonds to North’s Queen and my Ace. My ten of clubs held the next trick and South won the third club with his Ace, North following the suit. South continued with a small heart. Follow the play in the bridge movie below. How are we doing?
Not too well. The diamond switch was not welcomed. If I now lose a spade trick to North, he plays back a diamond and I might lose five tricks. There is no point of finessing the other way. If I play the ten of spades and lose the trick to South’s Queen, he plays back another heart and the entry to the third spade trick is gone. To see some discards from the opponents, I cashed my good club from the dummy, both opponents discarding hearts. Next I played diamond to my Jack. If North has the King, I have my nine tricks. And if South has K10xx, I cut the communications between the defenders.
Unfortunately, South wins the Jack with his King and plays one more heart, North discarding a spade. In the four-card ending dummy has just spades left and I have two spades and two diamonds. You can see the position in the bridge movie below. What now?
Gaylor Kasle was first discarding his last heart and after that one spade. It indicates strongly, that his distribution is 4-3-3-3. From five card suit the obvious first discard is a spade. If North has the Queen of spades, I should let the ten run, play a spade to the King and exit with a diamond. It doesn’t matter who’s winning the next to last trick, both opponents have spade as their last card. If South has the Queen of spades, I can make an overtrick with a normal finesse. Which way?
There is one indication, that I should play North for the Queen of spades. If South had Qxx 9xxx Kxx AKx, he might have made a take-out double of my opening bid of one club. Therefore, I let the ten of spades run and made nine tricks the whole hand being:
At the other table the play was following the same lines. Connie also found the mean switch to diamonds. The Polish declarer also misguessed the diamond suit and when he finessed the Queen of spades from the South hand, we gained 13 IMPs from the board.