Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Test Your Play Again -- solution

I posted this recently:

Matchpoints, favorable.

♠ 3 2
Q 9 4 3
♣ K Q 10 9 3 2
♠ A Q J 6 4
A 9 5 2
♣ A 8 7

This is slightly modified from a hand I played on Saturday. LHO opened 1♠, RHO passes, and you wind up in 3N. ♠10 led, RHO shows out, pitching a diamond. When you play a club to the king, everyone follows.

How do you play?

Seems like LHO must have all the major suit honors. So you could try running all your minor suit winners to come down to a 4 card ending, then exit a heart to lose 2 hearts but score 2 spades at the end, for 11 tricks total.

However, even if LHO has both heart honors, the defense might be able to defeat this plan. How do you counter?

Answer below...

The problem is that LHO can pitch a heart winner in order to hold a diamond link to partner, who will have some good diamonds left. So, after ♣K (in case they're 4-0), unblock
K and play a heart. LHO can't cash 2 hearts or your 11th trick is established, but the position becomes a trick tighter. In the 3 card ending LHO must keep 2 spades and the other heart winner, and now it will be safe to throw him in.

In practice, one of my small diamonds was a heart. I played this way and successfully executed the endplay, but I could have almost as well just established a heart trick.

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