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725. Dealer South. Both Vul.

While both players stretched in the bidding, the final contract proved to be a good one. West began with the ace and king of hearts. Declarer ruffed the second heart and played the king of spades, which held the trick. West took the low trump continuation with the jack and forced declarer with a heart, reducing declarer to two trumps, the same number as West had. Now, no matter how declarer played West would make both of his remaining trumps and so defeat the contract.

As ever, dummy was critical of the line chosen. “If trumps had been 3-2, then almost any plan would have succeeded,” he offered. “So, you should have thought about overcoming a 4-1 break in trumps. You had to ruff the second round of hearts, but you should have continued with a low trump at trick three. Suppose West had played his jack – you would still have had a low trump in dummy to take care of a heart continuation. It would have been no better for West to have played low, for then dummy’s ten would have won the trick. The continuation of a trump to the king would have left West in a position where he could have done no better than to have won and forced you with a heart.

After discarding a club from dummy, you would have ruffed in hand and played the queen of trumps. This would have left West with just the master jack in trumps, which he could have taken whenever he pleased while you ran the diamonds and, if necessary, the top clubs. You would have made ten tricks by way of four trumps and six tricks in the minors.”

726. Dealer South. EW Vul.

After the Jacoby conventional response to his opening bid, showing at least a game raise in spades, and some control bidding, South drove to the small slam in spades. West led the jack of clubs and it was covered by the queen, king and ace. Declarer continued with the ace and king of trumps, getting the news that there was an unavoidable trump loser when West discarded a heart at trick three.

Declarer now paused to consider what he needed to make his slam with this turn of events. Obviously, he needed to play four rounds of diamonds with East following suit so that he could discard two of his club losers. If this came to pass, the fifth diamond would see his last club disappear; restricting the defenders to just East’s certain trump trick. Declarer realised that if East started with four diamonds then he would be twice as likely as West to have the jack of diamonds. So, South finessed the nine of diamonds next. After it held, declarer cashed ace of diamonds, crossed to dummy with the king of hearts and played the king and queen of diamonds, discarding clubs from his hand as East helplessly followed suit. When East ruffed the next diamond it was a trick too late as declarer discarded his last remaining club. This was the only trick declarer lost.

You should note that if it had been West rather than East who had the trump trick, declarer would have started diamonds by cashing the ace and then finessing dummy’s ten.

727. Dealer West. NS Vul.

West began with ace, king and another heart. Dummy threw a low diamond while East parted with a spade and a diamond. After winning with the jack of hearts, declarer counted the six tricks in the red suits and saw that he needed three tricks from the black suits. As West was marked with both black aces, declarer took advantage of this by leading the two of spades from his hand at trick four. This caught West in a Morton’s Fork: he could not afford to rise with the ace of spades as that would give declarer have three spade tricks and his contract.

After dummy’s king of spades won the trick, declarer crossed to his hand with a diamond and led a low club, catching West in a second Morton’s Fork. Again, West would have given the contract away if he had played his ace and so dummy’s queen of clubs won the trick. This brought declarer’s trick count to eight and all that remained was to play a low spade his queen and West’s ace. Dummy parted with a club on the heart continuation and declarer won the trick with his queen of hearts. After crossing to dummy with a diamond to the jack, declarer cashed the jack of spades and then claimed nine tricks. He made two spades, two hearts, four diamonds and a club.

728. Dealer South. Both Vul.

West led the jack of spades after this straightforward auction. Declarer counted six top tricks. He saw that unless there were a singleton or doubleton ace of diamonds, he would make only two tricks in the diamond suit; otherwise the defender with the ace of diamonds would take it only on the third round of the suit. So, declarer had only eight certain tricks.

The one chance for a ninth trick outside of diamonds was in clubs. Any approach would do if clubs proved to break 3-3. Declarer saw that there was an extra chance available in the suit if he ducked a club at trick two. East took the trick with the nine and returned a spade to declarer’s ace. Now declarer cashed the ace of clubs and was please to see the queen fall on his left. Declarer’s next move was to play the king of diamonds, which was allowed to hold. A diamond to the queen won and declarer now led dummy’s remaining club towards his jack-six. East rose with the king of clubs and declarer’s jack of clubs was then his ninth trick.

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