Main   Quiz 7H17 by Richard Pavlicek  

100-Percent Guarantee

As South, how do you play each of the following hands to guarantee making your contract. Forget about overtricks; assume your “life is on the line” to make your bid.

1. 3 NT South

S K Q 4 3
H K 7 2
D A 9 6 2
C K 4
Lead: H 3Table
S 5 2
H A Q 4
D K J 4 3
C A J 7 2


You have seven top tricks and can guarantee one extra trick in diamonds with proper technique and another later in spades. The key play is to cash the D K then lead the D 3 toward dummy. If West follows low both times, finesse the nine (if this loses to the 10, the D Q must fall later). If West shows out on the second diamond lead, win the ace then lead toward your jack. This is called a “safety play” as it will succeed against any distribution, though it sometimes may cost an overtrick.

2. 4 H South

S J 8 2
H Q J 10 7 6
D K Q 4
Lead: D 10Table
S Q 7 4
H A K 8 5 2
D A 7 2
C 4 3


You have nine top tricks and need one more in clubs or spades. Rather than rely on a finesse, there is a surefire endplay. Draw trumps and cash all of the remaining diamond winners. Next win the C A (key play) and exit with a club. Whoever wins must break the spade suit (else give you a ruff and a discard) and you are sure to win a 10th trick.

Note that if you finessed the C Q and it lost, East would return a club; then you would have to lead spades yourself and probably fail.

3. 6 NT South

S A K 7
H 3 2
D J 10 9 8 4 3
C 4 3
Lead: S JTable
S Q 3
H A K 4
C A K J 10 9 5


You have eight top tricks. If you win the S Q and lead the D A and D Q, whoever has the king may hold up; then you cannot set up the suit. If you then go after clubs, you may lose to the C Q and D K. The key play is to lead the D Q without cashing the ace. If it wins you have nine tricks and you can switch to clubs for three more.

What if someone takes the D K and returns a spade? No problem! Cash the third spade and discard the D A — a jettison play — then run the diamonds.


© 2013 Richard Pavlicek