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Frosty, the Notrump


Frosty, the Notrump, was a jolly, happy soul. Brrr! Each of these 3 NT contracts is frosty (ice cold), but only if you can find the correct play. Are you up to the task?

1. 3 NT by South

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


Answer

With eight top tricks, you need only to establish one more in diamonds. The danger is that, if you lose a diamond trick, the opponents might be able to set you by cashing four hearts; but this is impossible if you lose the trick to West.

Win the S A, cross to dummy with a club, and lead a low diamond to the eight. This insures your contract against any layout, and nets an overtrick as the cards lie. Note that if West could win the D J and return a club to remove dummy’s side entry, the diamond suit would still run by leading the ace.

West held:

S 8-7-4 H A-J-9-7 D 7-6 C J-9-8-4

2. 3 NT by South

S 5
H A 6 5 4
D K 7 4 3
C K 6 4 3
Lead: H QTableEast pitches S 2
S A K J 4
H K 3 2
D A J 5
C A J 2


Answer

Again you have eight top tricks, and any of three finesses will give you nine; plus there’s a chance to set up the fourth club or diamond. Which to try? None of the above. The only surefire play is a throw-in against West.

Duck the first heart (optional), then win the H K, S K (optional) and H A. Exit with dummy’s last heart to let West run his entire suit (you will lose four tricks). Your last six cards will be D K-7-4 C K-6-4 opposite S A-J D A-J C A-J, and any lead by West gives you a free finesse for your ninth trick.

West held:

S Q-8-7 H Q-J-10-9-8-7 D Q-2 C Q-5

3. 3 NT by South

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


Answer

You have seven top tricks and can establish a heart for eight. If the diamonds run that makes 12. Quit dreaming! Would I really give you a 3-2 diamond break? There’s only one way to ensure nine tricks, and it requires some fancy footwork.

Win the S K, then lead the D Q and overtake it with the king. Cash the D A to pitch your S 10, then lead the D 10 and pitch your S A! Eventually you will reach dummy in hearts. Note that if you didn’t jettison your top spades, a spade return by East would set up West’s suit before you could reach dummy.

West held:

S J-7-6-5-4 H A-9-8-7 D 2 C Q-4-2

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek