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VOLVER AL INICIO - AGREGAR A FAVORITOS

                                                            

  

FANTASYLAND

 

By John Carruthers

 

 

Sometimes good defence starts in the bidding. This deal occurred during the NEC Cup in Yokohama this winter (2009). See how you would have handled it.

 

Dealer East. Neither Vul.

  J 10 9 2

A K 8 5
A K 8 3 2
   
  A K 6 4 3
K Q 9
J 3 2
Q 5

 

                   

West

North

East

South

    21 2
42 4 5 Double
Pass 6 Pass 6
End      

 

1.   Disciplined weak two-bid

2.   Splinter-bid in support of hearts

 

West led the jack of clubs. There is nothing to be done if East is ruffing (unlikely as no Lightner Double), so you play low and win the queen as he indeed does follow suit. How would you go about making your slam?

 

Because of the bidding, you know 12 of East’s 13 cards. Unless he has a stiff queen of spades, you are going to lose a trump trick to West, so you cannot afford to lose a heart trick.

 

Your first thought might be to ruff all three hearts in the dummy, but you’ll soon realize you do not have the entries to hand to accomplish that feat and draw trumps. Remember, West is ruffing the second diamond.

 

What about cashing one high diamond then leading toward the other? West could not really ruff profitably from queen-third of trumps. Let’s try that (in our head, first, of course) – club queen, heart ruff, diamond ace, spade to the ace (removing East’s only trump: you hope he has one!), heart ruff, club ace-king (discarding a diamond), club ruff, diamond. At this point, you have only one trump left in the dummy and the club honours are gone. West can ruff profitably and exit with the spade queen. You never get to ruff the third heart or cash the second diamond honour. And if you lead a diamond earlier, West can simply discard a club and come to a second spade trick through promotion or a heart trick by over-ruffing a minor and leading another trump.

 

Finally you see it! You will lose an early spade trick to West – you’ll ruff a heart and pass the spade jack to his queen. He can lead another trump, but you’ll win in hand, ruff a heart, play ace-king and ruff a club (discarding a diamond), then draw the last trump. This will be the ending:

 

 

A K 8
8
   
  6
Q
J 3

 

                       

At this point, East has 4 red cards including the heart ace (you hope so anyway – West did not cover your king) and West has one diamond. You can play the last spade, discarding dummy’s club and East will have to throw the heart ace to protect the diamonds. Well played!

 

Having taken five minutes to sort this out and mentally patting yourself on the back for doing so, you win the queen of clubs in hand ruff the heart nine, and run the spade jack. It loses to West’s queen as planned and he plays back, not another spade, but a club. No matter. You play the king from dummy and East ruffs!

 

Yes, this was the full, very sad, deal:

  J 10 9 2

A K 8 5
A K 8 3 2
8 5
6 5 3 2
Q 4
J 10 9 7 6
Q 7
A J 10 8 7 4
10 9 7 6
4
  A K 6 4 3
K Q 9
J 3 2
Q 5

 

Realizing you were on your way to slam, West psyched a splinter and East cooperated perfectly in bidding to the five-level despite his three black-suit losers.

 

But, but, I hear you say, East has the spade queen. Yes, I make seven by not losing a trump trick and squeezing East. True, but what a story West would have had in just a slightly-different construction!

 

You will also have noted that I misplayed the hand, assuming West did have queen-third of spades. I could have won the club queen, ruffed a heart, led a spade to the ace, removing East’s trump, ruffed another heart and cashed the ace-king of clubs, ruffed a club and ruffed the last heart in dummy. Another club ruff as West follows and I’d be down to ace-low of spades and the two diamonds. West would make only the spade queen. On the actual layout East would ruff the second club, but that would have been the last trick foir the defence.

 

I was truly in Fantasyland!