Main   Quiz 7H82 by Richard Pavlicek  

Tricks of the Trade

Each of these contracts requires a tricky play to succeed. As South, are you up to the task?

1. 4 S South

S J 10 9 3
H A Q 10
D 3
C 8 6 5 4 3
Lead: C KTableEast plays C 9
S K 8 7 6 5 4
C A 10 7 2


If the S A-Q are offside (or if you misguess), you are in danger of losing two clubs and two spades as soon as you give up the lead. What can you do about it? Of course! You can discard two clubs on dummy’s hearts. The problem is the hearts are blocked, so you will need another entry to dummy — a diamond ruff. Win the C A, cash the H K and D A, then ruff the D K, etc.

Ironically, if your D K were a small diamond, this hand would be a lot easier. The aversion to ruffing a winner clouds the picture.

2. 5 D South

S 10 5
H Q 2
D A J 10 7
C A K 10 7 5
Lead: H ATableEast plays H 9
S K J 6
D K Q 9 8 5 4 2
C 8 6 2


What could go wrong here? Well, if you play clubs in routine fashion you are likely to lose a club trick to East; then a spade return will defeat you if the A-Q are wrong or you misguess. You must keep East off lead! The clever play is to discard a club on the opening lead. In effect you lose a heart instead of a club. Now, with a 3-2 club break you can establish that suit with one ruff and discard two spades on the good clubs.

If the clubs happen to break 4-1, you will still succeed if the spades are friendly.

3. 6 H South

S 4 3 2
H 9 8 7 6
D A 8 7 6
C 3 2
Lead: S JTableEast plays S 8
H A Q J 10
D K Q J 5
C A K Q 7


Assuming one trump loser, you have 11 sure tricks and the 12th must come from a ruff. The danger here is a 4-1 trump break, in which case it will be difficult to make your ruff and still keep trump control. The secret is to lead the H Q from your hand; and if it holds, continue with the jack. If it loses and a heart is returned, you can ruff a club and return to hand with a diamond to draw the last trump.

It is essential not to play the H A on the first or second round. Give West H K-x-x-x to see how he can foil any attempt this way.


© 2013 Richard Pavlicek