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749. Dealer South. EW Vul.

This deal cropped up in a teams match and the auction was the same at both tables, as was the lead: both West players started with the king of spades.

The first declarer ruffed the opening lead, then cashed the ace and king of trumps, followed by the ace and king of hearts. Next he led a heart from hand and ruffed it in dummy. Alas, East overruffed and this declarer still had to lose a diamond and a heart, finishing down one.

The second declarer was a little more circumspect. He counted nine top tricks and, if the hearts were 3- 3, eleven tricks would be certain. Accordingly, he turned his mind to what he could do if hearts were 4-2. So, after ruffing the opening lead, declarer cashed the ace of trumps and then played ace, king and another heart. When West followed to the third round of hearts, instead of ruffing, declarer threw a low diamond from dummy. After winning a surprise heart trick with the seven, West shifted to a diamond. Declarer rose with the ace, returned to hand with a trump and led a fourth round of hearts, on which he discarded dummy’s last diamond.

Declarer ruffed the spade continuation then ruffed his remaining diamond in dummy with the ten of trumps. After crossing back to hand with another spade ruff, declarer drew East’s last trump and claimed: he had three hearts, a diamond, a diamond ruff and six trumps for a total of eleven tricks.

750. Dealer North. Both Vul.

After a forcing rebid of three hearts, promising a sixcard suit, and some control-bidding, South, rather optimistically, leapt to a small slam in his long suit.

West led the ten of clubs and, after dummy was tabled, declarer saw that his prospects were rather bleak. As the auction was not a thing worth lamenting, after winning the first trick with the queen of clubs, declarer ran the queen of trumps. When that held and East followed, declarer saw that all would be well if West’s trump king was now bare. So he asked himself, “What could be done if West started with king-third of trumps?”

In that case, his only hope was that West had also started with the king of diamonds and could be stripped of his black-suit cards. Accordingly, declarer crossed to dummy with the ace of spades then ruffed a spade. A trump to the ace brought the bad news that West did indeed have a trump trick. Continuing with his plan, declarer ruffed the third spade before cashing the ace-king of clubs and finally exiting with a trump to West’s king. As West had stared with 3=3=4=3 shape, he had to exit with a diamond and declarer’s queen of diamonds proved to be his twelfth trick. For once, dummy was pleased. “Well done,” he exclaimed, rather unexpectedly.

751. Dealer South. Both Vul.

As North/South were using a four-diamond response to two notrump as a transfer to four hearts, this sequence suggested that North had a mild interest in a heart slam.

As he held an ace and a king, West deduced that it was almost pointless to lead his singleton and so started with a low trump. Declarer took this in hand with the eight and led the king of clubs. West covered the king with the ace and declarer, instead of ruffing, threw a diamond from dummy.

West exited with a trump, which declarer took in dummy. After crossing to hand with the ace of diamonds to park dummy’s two remaining diamonds on the queen and jack of clubs, declarer ruffed a diamond in dummy. Next, he crossed back to hand with the ace of trumps, thereby drawing West’s last trump, to ruff a second diamond in dummy. This set up two diamond winners in hand and declarer had the ace of spades as an entry to enjoy them. He made one spade, six trumps, three diamonds and two clubs for a total of twelve tricks.

752. Dealer East. NS Vul.

North’s cue-bid of two hearts promised a sound raise in spades and so the game in spades was reached.

West led the nine of hearts. East took dummy’s ten with the jack and, seeing little future in a heart continuation, shifted to the two of diamonds. Declarer rose with the ace of diamonds and, expecting the king of clubs to be on his right, adopted a plan that would avoid his playing on clubs directly. First, declarer crossed to dummy by playing the jack of trumps and overtaking it with the queen. Then he led the queen of hearts from the table and when East played the king of hearts, South threw the jack of diamonds from his hand.

Declarer ruffed the queen of diamonds continuation high then led his two of spades to dummy’s four to ruff another heart. Finally he crossed back to dummy for a third time with the king of trumps to lead dummy’s last heart. East covered it with the eight and declarer threw a club from hand. East now had the option of leading into dummy’s club tenace or conceding a ruffand-discard if he led a red suit. Either way declarer had ten tricks.

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