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Counting tricks and avoiding useless plays

The one session Novice Pairs Championship took place at the club last week and the result was a thriller when pair Heather and Michael Farrugia edged out Judith Law and Paul Shrubb by the wafer-thin margin of one match point.

Well done to the winners and the runners-up and the third-placed pair of Wendell Emery and Linda Manders.

Today's hand is a lesson in counting your tricks and avoiding useless plays.

Spades 1043

Hearts KQ103

Diamonds A32

Clubs A32

S AKQJ98

H 2

D K84

C K95

North

1C

1NT

2S

5H

South

1H

2D

4NT

6H

Once North opened, South was always headed for slam. Two Diamonds by South was new minor asking North if he had three-card Spade support and once he did, South employed Blackwood and bid the slam.

West led the Diamond Jack and things did not look good as North had no ruffing values and the points in Hearts opposite the singleton were wasted.

South could count six Spades, two Diamonds, two Clubs and one Heart by knocking out the Ace so things did not look good. But you do have at least a 50 per cent chance — do you see it?! Win the King, draw trumps and then lead a low Heart — when West plays low you know that playing the Queen will only get you one trick no matter who has the Ace, so you take your best chance — you insert the ten.

You clever bunny! The full hand is below.

North

S 1043

H KQ103

D A32

C A32

West

S 76

H J987

D J1097

C Q86

East

S 52

H AJ

D Q9765

C J1074

South

S AKQJ98

H 2

D K84

C K95

The defence cannot stop you now as you are guaranteed two Heart tricks to go with your other ten — slam made!

And what if East wins the Jack? You still have one tiny chance — that one player is still left with the singleton Ace of Hearts, so you can ruff a low Heart if the hand was something like this and still get home.

North

S 1043

H KQ103

D A32

C A32

West

S 76

H 987654

D J10

C Q86

East

S 52

H AJ

D Q9765

C J1074

South

S AKQJ98

H 2

D K84

C K95

There are many ways to skin a cat so never give up hope until every last chance is exhausted.

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Published November 19, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated November 18, 2016 at 10:18 pm)

Counting tricks and avoiding useless plays

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