Main   Quiz 7J54 by Richard Pavlicek  

Jack of All Trades

On each of these contracts you have no jacks, yet the location of these cards in the enemy hands may be crucial to your success. Can you find the best plays?

1. 3 NT South

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


After capturing the H K with the ace, you have seven top tricks, and the club suit will always provide two more. The danger is that if you lose an early club trick to East, a heart return through your A-10 will put the contract in jeopardy. The proper play is to cross to the S K and lead a low club to the nine (assuming East follows low). This way, even if it loses to the jack, you cannot be attacked further in hearts, and it’s an easy matter to force out the C A to ensure nine tricks. Any other line of play entails the risk of being defeated.

West held:

S Q-J-7-6 H J-9-8-6-3 D 4-2 C J-2 2. 3 NT South

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

East returns the S 7


After losing to the S K, you have eight iron-clad tricks but no clear way to establish another. You could always succeed if you knew where the H J was, or if East held the C J or the D A; but these are uncertain. Based on the fourth-best lead, however, there is a foolproof line. The secret is to win both spades (queen first), then lead a diamond to the 10 (or cover East’s play) to force West on lead. West can cash his fourth spade (pitch a diamond from each hand); but what can he lead next? This neat triple endplay guarantees a ninth trick.

West held:

S J-8-6-2 H 8-3 D A-Q-J C J-7-5-2 3. 4 S South

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


You may have to guess who has the S J, but there is no hurry. Since all your side tricks are quick (off the top), there is little danger of a ruff. This suggests a waiting game. Win the H K, cross to your hand with the D A, and lead a club to the queen. This finesse is inevitable, so you may as well take it. It wins (else the contract is probably hopeless). Next cash the C A and ruff a club; then win the H A and D K and lead the last club. When East shows out, you have a lock: Ruff low, and exit with a red suit. Eventually you must win two more trump tricks.

West held:

S A-J-4 H 10-9-7 D J-8-5 C K-9-8-5 TopMain

© 2013 Richard Pavlicek