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Separating advanced players from the experts

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Fig 1: the beginning position

There’s not a lot going on at the Bridge Club right now and as I’m travelling I’ll get straight to the hand, which I’ve covered before, but is a play worth repeating as it requires a technique that separates the advanced players from the experts.

This play comes up really often at the table, but not many players see the opportunity or have the courage to execute it (Fig 1)

The bidding was over quickly — West passed, North opened one Diamond, East overcalled one Heart and South bid 3NT

West led the jack of Hearts. East played the queen and declarer ducked. East continued with the ace of Hearts, followed by the ten. Declarer took this with the king and paused to assess his chances.

He could count only eight certain tricks and so needed to develop another one in either diamonds or spades. Declarer’s first move was to cash the ace, queen and king of Diamonds. East’s low Spade discard was a disappointment, but not unexpected. At this point, the contract seemed to depend on the Spade finesse — or does it? Try it yourself before reading on.

This declarer disliked taking finesses whenever there was a chance of gaining a trick by other means. To further investigate the hand he now cashed the ace, queen and king of Clubs. When both defenders followed to all three Clubs, East was marked with an original 3-5-2-3 or 2-5-2-4 shape.

This was now the situation with declarer having won 7 tricks (Fig 2).

East had a good Heart suit to start with, but declarer thought that his overcall made it just a bit more likely that he also had the king of Spades

So, instead of trying the Spade finesse he exited with his remaining Heart — East could take the nine and eight of Hearts, but then had to lead away from the king of Spades — nine tricks and a fully deserved top for this declarer.

How did you do on the hand?


Student bridge results:


1, Katarina Rance — Salayah Stange


1, Finn Moseley — Drew Smith

Fig 2: the end position