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Retaining Control

I was East on this deal from an online IMP pair event. Our opponents bid accurately to 4 H as my partner and I displayed great skill in passing. Note opener’s third-round heart raise to show three-card support, an important concept in sound bidding.

4 H by South

None Vul
S J 10 5 2
H A Q 5
D K Q 10 2
C 4 2
S Q 6 4
H K
D J 9 8 7
C K Q 9 8 5
TableS 9 8 7
H J 9 6 4
D 6
C A J 10 7 6
Lead: C KS A K 3
H 10 8 7 3 2
D A 5 4 3
C 3

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
1 S
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
3 D
4 H

My partner led the C K and continued the suit. South ruffed and led a low heart intending to finesse, but the appearance of the king changed that. After winning the H A, declarer paused to consider: If he won the H Q and continued hearts, I would be able to tap him out with club leads. Eventually he decided to leave hearts alone and lead diamonds, letting me ruff the second round. I exited with a spade, and declarer eventually had to rely on the spade finesse — down one.

Declarer had a blind spot here, and missed an almost surefire way to succeed. After winning the H A he should lead a low heart toward his hand (keeping the queen in dummy) and I would take the jack. A spade or a diamond return allows him to draw trumps and claim, so I would lead another club. Now declarer can retain trump control by discarding a spade and ruffing with the H Q. I still get another trump trick, but South makes the contract.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek