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Ten Tricks On Ice

On this deal from a knockout team event, the same contract was reached at both tables. On the auction shown, 4 NT was a quantitative slam invitation. The N-S hands, despite 32 HCP, had poor playing potential because of the flat, mirrored shapes. Both pairs judged well to stop at a safe level. Well, almost safe.

4 NT by South

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

West

Pass
All Pass
North
1 D
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 NT
4 NT

At one table declarer won the spade lead and immediately ran four rounds of diamonds, as West threw two hearts and a club. Obviously, the contract now can be made by forcing out either of West’s kings without wasting a queen. But South was not playing with mirrors, and he opted to try both finesses — down one.

At the other table declarer looked a little deeper into the problem. After West discarded on the second round of diamonds, he found a surefire play to guarantee the contract. All the spades were cashed ending in dummy, then the C 9 was ducked to the 10 (if East played the C J, South would play the queen). West cashed his two long spades; North threw two hearts, and South a heart and a diamond. But now West was endplayed; either a club or a heart lead gives declarer his 10th trick.

Note the importance of cashing only two diamonds. If three rounds were cashed, declarer’s hand would be squeezed when West won his spades.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek