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Finding the solution was all about ruff and discards

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Fig 1: Last week’s quiz
Fig 2: Last week’s quiz
Fig 3: this week’s hand
Fig 4: the full hand

Happy New Year to you all, may 2021 bring you all good things at the table and I hope all your crucial finesses work when you need them, but further hope that you will only take the finesses that are absolutely necessary – as always, more on that later.

First, the solution to the quiz set last week which I reproduce here (Fig 1).

West opens 4 Hearts with his solid nine carder and after two passes you bid 4 Spades which becomes the final contract.

West leads the King of Hearts and East ruffs – over to you!

A number of you got it right. I won’t list the names here in case I miss some, but I’ve replied to all, so you know who you are.

The classic solution is all about ruff and discards. Declarer must ditch the Ace of Hearts when East ruffs, win any return, draw trumps, cash the minor suit winners and now exit with a Heart. West now only has Hearts left and leads another, offering a ruff and discard, but you must refuse it by throwing a diamond from dummy and a club from your hand to reach the position shown in Fig 2.

Now when East leads another heart, ruff in dummy and discard the last Club from hand and the contract makes – you lost the initial ruff at trick one and then two Heart tricks.

One of the solvers found a clever twist in her solution. I unwittingly gave West the 10x of spades when I constructed the full hand and this player seized the opportunity – in her solution she held on to the Ace of Hearts trick one, won the Club return, drew one trump, cashed the Heart Ace and now threw West in with the Spade 10. We are back to where we were with the double ruff and discard and once again the hand makes – very clever to spot that.

Well done to all who responded and thanks for the interest.

This week’s hand is about finesses, and when not to take them (Fig 3).

South opened the hand a pre-emptive (weak) 3 Clubs and North made the great bid of 6 Club, knowing that it had to have a great chance.

West led the Ace of Diamonds and then switched to a sneaky looking small Spade – declarer put in the Queen and the contract failed by one trick.

Unlucky? Not really, as the Spade finesse is an illusion and gains nothing – even if the Spade finesse works, declarer needs the Heart finesse to work in order to make the contract – and if the Heart finesse works the Spade finesse means nothing. See the full hand in Fig 4.

Declarer should win the Spade Ace, draw trump and then run the 10 of Hearts – when this works the Hearts provide a parking space for the Spade loser and the slam makes.

Again, avoid reflex plays and make a plan before playing your first card.

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Published January 02, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 01, 2021 at 2:17 pm)

Finding the solution was all about ruff and discards

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