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Work your mental socks off to find the right solution

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Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

If you are a regular reader of this column you will have figured out by now that I want players to work their mental socks off to get to the right solution in either the bidding or the play of the hand.

Too often a hand comes up which presents all sorts of avenues for success, and declarer happily tries each of them without looking to see whether there is an even better way to approach the hand, and often guarantee success.

With all that in mind take a look at today’s hand (see Figure 1).

South opened 1 heart and North has a difficult bid – he wants to show heart support but also wants to control the hand and ensure getting to either a small or grand slam. Most North players would immediately employ Blackwood and bid the small slam ,which is what happened at this table.

Playing 2/1, one could bid a Jacoby 2NT (showing 4 card trump support and at least 12 HCP) and see what partner says – on this hand partner would bid 4 clubs with his excellent hand and good second suit and with three small clubs North will probably still settle for the small slam.

West leads a passive trump and things look really good….declarer has two club pitches available on the diamonds and if spades are 3-3, or if the jack is singleton or doubleton, that provides another pitch and declarer can claim.

Even if none of that works, all declarer needs is for East to hold one of the club honours to make the hand. All this makes the slam something like an 85 per cent proposition – but you are right, that’s not good enough for me ! if 100 per cent is available, I want you to find it.

Win the trump, draw the other trump and test the spades - when nothing good happens there, ruff the last spade, cross to dummy with a trump and pitch two clubs on the diamonds - this is now the position (see Figure 2).

Now a low club to the 10 guarantees the contract, as after winning the trick West must either lead another club or give you a ruff and discard – chalk up plus 980 and a top!

For the full hand, see Figure 3.

The hand is a fairly simple strip and endplay and is a play that often offers itself when both dummy and declarer have good length in trumps. Yes, it needs some thought, planning and careful execution, but that is the very least you owe your partner!


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Published May 22, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 21, 2021 at 5:20 pm)

Work your mental socks off to find the right solution

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