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February 3, 2001
Not the Best Contract and Choosing the Safe Tricks

Not the Best Contract

West North East South
Pass 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 4heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 4NT
Pass 5heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 5NT
Pass 6diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 7heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

 

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQJ3
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQ97
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A65
West club.gif (841 bytes)QJ East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)K742
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ1054
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K102
club.gif (841 bytes)A

As South, pleased that partner opened the bidding, you explore for a major suit fit and immediately strike gold when partner rebids 4heart.gif (841 bytes). Partner should have four card heart support and a hand with a value of 19-21 points. Blackwood (4NT) confirms that your side holds all four aces and a further inquiry (5NT) reveals all but one king. Feeling pretty good about things you go for the gold ring and bid 7heart.gif (841 bytes).

West leads the club.gif (841 bytes)10 which goes club.gif (841 bytes)J-club.gif (841 bytes)7-club.gif (841 bytes)A.

A review of your assets tells two bad stories.

First - In a heart contract you have only 12 top tricks (4 spades, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 1 club). Trumping a club in the South hand uses one of the heart tricks you have already counted.

Second - In a spade contract you have 13 top tricks (4 spades, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds, 1 club, and 1 club ruff in the South hand). In spades you do not have the same issue of trumping in the long hand.

Unfortunately you cannot alter the contract to spades. Is there any chance of finding a thirteenth trick? I will tell you that neither defender holds a singleton diamond honor and neither defender holds the doubleton diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ.

What lie of the cards will allow you to make the hand? How do you play?

The answer is below.

--------------------------------------

Choosing the Safe Tricks

West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 3heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 4heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

 

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)965
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ109
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A1098
West club.gif (841 bytes)K8 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)K843
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ8765
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ
club.gif (841 bytes)A

As South, you and partner bid to a heart game. West leads the club.gif (841 bytes)Q which you win in hand. What line gives the play for the maximum number of tricks and the greatest safety?

The answer is below.

Not the Best Contract - Answer

The complete hand:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQJ3
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQ97
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A65
West club.gif (841 bytes)QJ East
spade.gif (842 bytes)98 spade.gif (842 bytes)1065
heart.gif (841 bytes)6 heart.gif (841 bytes)832
diamond.gif (837 bytes)843 diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ97
club.gif (841 bytes)10985432 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)K76
spade.gif (842 bytes)K742
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ1054
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K102
club.gif (841 bytes)A

In order to take thirteen tricks you will need one defender (either one will do) to have to guard both clubs and diamonds. That means that one of the defenders will need to hold both the diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJx of diamonds and the club.gif (841 bytes)K. You will need to place them in a position of having to give up the guard in one of these suits and provide you with a thirteenth trick.

This is known as a simple squeeze.

Play as follows:

With three tricks to play the four hands are as follows. When North cashes the last spade, East is squeezed and must discard and give declarer the thirteenth trick.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)J
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)6
West club.gif (841 bytes)Q East
spade.gif (842 bytes) spade.gif (842 bytes)
heart.gif (841 bytes) heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)8 diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ
club.gif (841 bytes)98 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)K
spade.gif (842 bytes)7
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K10
club.gif (841 bytes)

 Choosing the Safe Tricks - Answer

This is a case of finding the route to ten (or more!) tricks that provides the greatest safety. To solve these problems it pays to play the "what if" game.

Line 1

What if you pull trump and take the diamond finesse by leading the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q? If West holds the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K then you will take at least 11 tricks (6 hearts, 3 diamonds minimum, and 2 clubs). You will take 12 tricks if the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K is with West and West holds a total of three diamonds or less (so that you can take 4 diamond tricks). You will also take 12 tricks if West holds the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K (any length) AND East holds the spade.gif (842 bytes)A (1 spade, 6 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 2 clubs).

If East holds the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K and West holds the spade.gif (842 bytes)spade ace you might well find yourself in trouble. East wins the diamond and shifts to spades scoring four tricks for the defense.

Line 2

What if you pull trump, discard a diamond on the club.gif (841 bytes)K, and then lead a spade towards the spade.gif (842 bytes)K? Not bad. Much better then the first solution. If the spade.gif (842 bytes)A is in East hand you will win 11 tricks (1 spade, 6 hearts, 1 diamond, 2 clubs, and 1 spade ruff in dummy). If the spade.gif (842 bytes)A is in the West hand you will win 10 tricks (6 hearts, 1 diamond, 2 clubs, and 1 spade ruff in dummy).

Line 3

What if you pull trump, discard a diamond on the club.gif (841 bytes)K, and then lead a diamond? The best solution so far. If the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K is in the West hand you will win 11 tricks by discarding a spade on the diamond. West can do no better than cash a spade. You will take 6 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 2 clubs. If the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K is in the East hand you will win 11 tricks by trumping the diamond (whenever East covers). You will take 6 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 2 clubs. You can then lead a spade towards the spade.gif (842 bytes)K trying to take a 12th trick after discarding two spades on the diamonds. If the contract was 6heart.gif (841 bytes) then Line 3 is correct. If the contract was 4heart.gif (841 bytes) and you are playing rubber bridge or team play then Line 3 is correct.

The complete hand:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)965
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ109
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A1098
West club.gif (841 bytes)K8 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ2 spade.gif (842 bytes)J107
heart.gif (841 bytes)4 heart.gif (841 bytes)32
diamond.gif (837 bytes)652 diamond.gif (837 bytes)K743
club.gif (841 bytes)QJ10754 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)9632
spade.gif (842 bytes)K843
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ8765
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ
club.gif (841 bytes)A

Thanks!
Gary King

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