Poker face

                                                                                 

 

Test your declarer play on this deal.

 

Dlr: East                S  K53

Vul: N-S                 H  AKJ986

                         D  AT86

                         C  --

 

                         S  A8764

                         H  42

                         D  J9

                         C  KQT9

 

          WEST       NORTH       EAST       SOUTH

           -          -          Pass       Pass

          1D         1H          Pass       1S

          Pass       2D          Pass       3C

          Pass       6S          All Pass

 

West leads the DK. Plan the play.

 

To make 6S after a diamond lead, declarer must get the hearts going, discard a diamond before losing the lead and

find spades 3-2. Hearts must also be 3-2 (or the singleton queen with East) since you will have only one dummy entry

after playing the top spades and hearts.

 

Your choice in hearts is to finesse opener for the queen or bang down the HA and HK. Finessing gains only against H Qxx

with West since you need five heart winners (assuming West has the CA). Playing the top hearts works when either

opponent has the doubleton queen -- that's eight cases among the 3-2 splits (four each for East and West) versus

six cases of H Qxx with West only.

 

Actually, if East false cards with the HQ from a holding of Q-T doubleton, prompting declarer to play East for 2-1-3-7

shape (the only distribution consistent with West's opening of 1D rather than 1C), declarer will gain in only seven

cases versus six but will make the contract when hearts are 4-1 with West holding four to the 10. Declarer loses 3.4%

but adds 11.2%.

 

The correct play, then, is DA, HA. If East plays the HQ, declarer plays the SK and a spade to the ace, followed by a

heart to the 9, the HK, throwing a diamond, and then run hearts until West ruffs.

 

If East plays a low heart, declarer cashes the HK, if the HQ drops, then declarer plays the SK, a spade to the ace,

the HJ, pitching a diamond, and claims.

 

Finally, if the HQ does not drop, it is important to maintain a calm and unruffled exterior. You will still make

your slam is East had two hearts and any three spades. Just lead a heart. If East discards, ruff, play the SA, spade to

the king and run hearts, later taking a ruffing finesse for the CA. If East ruffs with the 9, 10, jack or queen,

declarer discards his diamond and prays that East started with three spades originally.

 

The full deal:

 

Dlr: East                S  K53

Vul: N-S                 H  AKJ986

                         D  AT86

                         C  --

           S  QJ2                     S  T9

           H  T53                     H  Q7

           D  KQ52                    D  743

           C  A83                     C  J76542

                         S  A8764

                         H  42

                         D  J9

                         C  KQT9