Dan Romm

Test Your Play

You (South) hold A10, AJ82, AK107, K104.

West opens four hearts, P doubles, East passes and you, vul vs. non-vul, opt to bid 6NT.

West leads the King of hearts and East plays the 10.

Dummy tables K8763, 7, QJ4, AQJ5.

You win the Ace (necessary, since you have a sure spade loser). You see eleven tricks off the top and while you are thinking you cash Ace of diamonds and lead to dummy’s Queen, on which East discards a low club. Now what?  

Solution – West’s four heart opening and East’s play of the heart 10 (which is clearly a singleton or he’d have played a lower one) marks West with twelve red cards. Your only chance is to develop a third spade trick while only losing one in the process. How? You can do it if and only if the Ace of spades captures an honor. If so, you can cash two more diamonds pitching the three of spades from dummy. This forces East to discard another club since he must keep three spades or else you can play the King and another spade driving out his last honor. Now cash all your clubs, pitch the ten of spades on the fourth club and lead a low spade end-playing East. Note – if you don’t pitch the ten of spades then East will duck the low spade and you will be locked in your hand with two losing hearts.

So, what is your best chance to capture an honor with your Ace of spades? Cash the club Ace and lead a spade toward your A10. If West followed to the club Ace he is void in spades and East is forced to split his spade honors or you will win the 10. If West showed out on the Ace of clubs you have a dilemma if East follows low to the spade from dummy. If you play the 10 and West’s singleton is an honor you are down immediately. East is more than a two to one favorite to hold both honors so mathematically it is best to play the 10. But bridge is also a game of psychology. Holding a spade suit headed by the QJ9 East will be tempted to split his honors. If he plays low smoothly and you know enough about him to be more than 70% certain that holding both honors he would split or at least huddle to think about splitting, you should buck the mathematical odds and play the Ace. If you are wrong, c’est la vie – that’s what makes bridge so much fun.


PatrickMarch 5th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Maybe you shouldn’t give declarer the 8 of hearts, since he can set up a second heart trick at trick 2 by leading the jack.

Dan RommMarch 6th, 2012 at 12:58 am

Oops. The dummy was supposed to have the 7 of hearts, not the 9. I will make the change, thanks.

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