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A hand that provides a difficult choice

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Some news this week about events at the club. Alan Douglas will be giving an intermediate lesson on Wednesday at 7pm — there is a sign-up sheet on the club's notice board.

Bill Pollett will be running a novice game each Tuesday between 7 and 9pm until the end of June. He is looking for one helper each week; if you can help send an e-mail to sancia@northrock.bm or to bill@pollett.com

The next tournament at the club will be the Non Life Masters Championship, which will be a two-session event next Saturday, with the morning session starting at 10am.

Now to this week's hand, which is interesting in that it provides a difficult choice in the play of the hand. Many experienced declarers may get it right, but not all will. Dealer North E/W Vul-Teams (Fig 1).

The hand came up in a team game. The bidding was good, and when North showed a better than opening hand with her jump to 3 spades, South made the decision to press on by employing Roman Key card Blackwood. North's response showed 2 key cards without the queen of trumps (with the Queen she would bid 5 spades) and South bid the slam.

The lead in both rooms was the heart Jack, which is the only lead to trouble declarer as any other lead gives declarer time to set up the diamonds. In the open room, declarer played the Queen, which was covered by the King and Ace, and immediately played the spade Queen. When West played low so did declarer, this lost to the King and a heart came back — down one.

In the closed room, the play started the same way but when West played low on the spade Queen, this declarer went up with the Ace. Now the Ace King of diamonds were played and when West discarded on the second it was clear that the spade King was with East. Declarer now ruffed a diamond, cashed the club Ace, ruffed a club, ruffed another diamond and ruffed the last club to come to this position (Fig 2).

Declarer now played dummy's winning diamond and East was helpless as the losing heart goes away whether he ruffs or not — contract made.

How do the two plays compare? If all else was equal the spade finesse is probably the right play as it would gain whenever West has K5, K4 or K54 and would only lose if West started with 54 (if East started with Kx there is no winning play in the suit). On this hand though there are other chances available — going up with the Ace wins if the spade King is singleton with East, and also works if East has any one or two trumps and 2,3 or 4 diamonds — all in all, the play of going up with the Ace will succeed two times out of three, which is better than the 50/50 option of the finesse.

Results for week of April 29

Monday afternoon


1, Harry Kast/Michael Bickley

2, Judith Bussell/Diana Diel

3, Rosemary Smith/Marsha Fraser


1, Elizabeth McKee/Stephanie Kyme

2, Sancia Garrison/Martha Ferguson

3, Lorna Anderson/George Correia

Tuesday evening junior game

1/2 W Christensen/D Downs/K Rabain/L Payne

3, Nikki Boyce/Carol Eastham

Wednesday morning


1, Lorna Anderson/Janice Trott

2, Michael Antar/Jeanette Shaw

3, William Pollett/Linda Pollett


1, Gertrude Barker/Jane Smith

2, Patricia Siddle/Diana Diel

3, Peter Donnellan/Lynanne Bolton

Thursday evening


1, David Sykes/Fabian Hupe

2, Diana Diel/Margaret Way

3, John Glynn/Sheena Rayner


1, Wendy Gray/Richard Gray

2, Gertrude Barker/Jane Smith

3, Elizabeth McKee/Stephanie Kyme

Friday afternoon


1, William Pollett/Peter Donnellan

2, Stephanie Kyme/Joseph Wakefield

3, George Correia/Molly Taussig


1, Gertrude Barker/Marilynn Simmons

2, Elizabeth McKee/Diana Diel

3, Julia Patton/Nancy Parker

Fig 1: the starting position
Fig 2: the finishing position

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Published May 11, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 10, 2019 at 10:30 pm)

A hand that provides a difficult choice

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