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  • Paul Mendelson

Hand of the Season

This deal gave many declarers a problem and few emerged with the correct solution. How would you play the contract of 4S on a trump lead.

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s KQJ

h 742

d AJ642

c 74

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s A109876

h A853

d K

c K6

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You have three heart losers and two club losers. The Ac may be on the correct side and, if hearts do not split 3-3, you might be able to ruff the fourth round of hearts in dummy. Can you utilise dummy's diamond suit and, if so, what do you do with the first discard from hand?

Although this is a hand from Duplicate Pairs - so your eye is always on a possible overtrick - just making 4S will score better than average and an overtrick will get you in excess of 90% of the matchpoints. It shouldn't, but it does!

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The best opportunity is, as ever, to combine your chances. If trumps split 2-2, you can ruff a heart in dummy and take a discard on Ad. There is also the chance to score Kc. However, the most solid underlying chance lies in establishing the diamond suit, and this can be done whilst keeping all the other options open.

You win the lead on the table, and play a low diamond to your king in hand. You retunr to dummy with a second trump (discvering that they break 3-1) and cash the diamond ace, on which you pitch a heart from hand. Now, a low diamond can be played and ruffed. If the dimaond queen does not appear, you use your final trump entry to dummy to lead a club towards the king. However, when this deal appeared, the diamond queen did fall on the third round, and this allowed you to reach dummy with third trump and enjoy two further heart discards from hand. And, you are still on the table to try a club towards your hand for the sceond overtrick. The club ace is with West however, so you make 4S+1.

Frankly, this should be a fairly standard score but, in an average club duplicate, you'd be surprised how often some suit establishment will bring home 60% or more for you.

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