Bridge Column

                                                                    A CHALLENGING ROUND

                                                                       by Stephen Rzewski

        On the last round of a pairs event at a Cape Cod tournament, I pick up on the first of two boards:

                                                                  ♠ K92    ♥ Q5    ♦ QJ7    ♣ AK753

      My good five-card suit makes up for the flawed doubleton queen, so I open 1NT. With the opponents silent, my partner
calls 4♦, a “Texas” transfer, showing long hearts and a hand good enough for game, but with no slam interest. I bid a dutiful 4♥,
LHO leads a low diamond spot, and my partner tables:

                                                                                ♠ A10
                                                                                  ♥ J98764
                                                                                  ♦ A92
                                                                                  ♣ Q10

                                                                               ♠ K92
                                                                                 ♥ Q5
                                                                                 ♦ QJ7
                                                                                 ♣ AK753

      I call for a low diamond from dummy. RHO wins the king and returns a club, which I let go around to dummy's 10.
Assuming no diamond ruff, the only problem now is the trump suit which I need to hold to two losers. I will start the trumps
with a low card to the queen, and if it loses to an honor on my left, my plan is to then lead low from hand, and if nothing
good happens to that point, I may have to guess whether or not to finesse dummy's 9.

      But on the first heart play, RHO plays the king. That is helpful in one respect, as I can play small from my hand now,
but it is bad news in another way if the king is singleton, which would mean that LHO will have started with A10xx. After
winning the trick, RHO opts to play a spade. As will be seen, I may need to save entries to my hand, so I let the spade go around
to dummy, with LHO playing the queen to force dummy's ace. I now lead a second heart to my queen, and my fears are confirmed
as RHO shows out, discarding a spade, and LHO wins the trick with her ace. She plays a second spade to dummy's 10, RHO's jack,
and I win the king. The position is now:

                                                                                 ♠ -----
                                                                                   ♥ J987
                                                                                   ♦ A9
                                                                                   ♣ Q

                                                                                 ♠ 9
                                                                                   ♥ -----
                                                                                   ♦ QJ
                                                                                   ♣ AK73

      LHO has 10-x remaining in trumps in front of dummy's J-9, creating a finessable position, but I do not have a trump
left in my hand to take the finesse. All is not lost, however. It may be possible to achieve the finesse by means of a trump coup,
if I can time the hand so as to have the lead in my hand at the penultimate trick.

      To begin with, I must reduce dummy's trumps to the same length as LHO's. I start by leading the 9 of spades,
which is actually a winner, but which I ruff in dummy, as LHO shows out, discarding a club. I then lead dummy's queen of clubs
and overtake with the king, crossing my fingers as LHO thankfully follows with a club. Now I lead a low club, and when LHO
discards a diamond, I ruff again in dummy, reducing the trumps to J-9. Now a low diamond to my queen, with everyone
following. With three tricks left, this is the position, with the lead in my hand, where it needs to be:

                                                                                    ♠ -----
                                                                                      ♥ J9
                                                                                      ♦ A
                                                                                      ♣ -----

                                                      ♠ -----
                                                        ♥ 103
                                                        ♦ 10
                                                        ♣ -----

                                                                                   ♠ -----
                                                                                     ♥ -----
                                                                                     ♦ J
                                                                                     ♣ A7

      I now lead the ace of clubs. If LHO ruffs, dummy will simply overruff, draw the last trump and win the ace of diamonds.
When instead she discards her last diamond, I discard dummy's ace of diamonds, retaining the lead in my hand and achieving the
desired position, effectively finessing west in trumps.

      With fatigue setting in from the long session, I hope for a routine last board, but instead pick up:

                                                                         ♠ A53    ♥ AK2    ♦ AKQJ9    ♣ K2

      There are 24 high-card points, but the hand should be treated more like a 26-count with the nearly solid 5-card suit plus
the proliferation of aces and kings, which are slightly undervalued on the point-count scale. I will not tire the reader with our auction,
which involved a treatment called “Kokish” relay, but a possible simple and straightforward auction might go:

                                                                                     2♣ - 2♦

                                                                                   3NT - 6NT

with the two hands being:

                                                                                      ♠ KJ4
                                                                                        ♥ J1096
                                                                                        ♦ 62
                                                                                        ♣ A963

                                                                                      ♠ A53
                                                                                        ♥ AK2
                                                                                        ♦ AKQJ9
                                                                                        ♣ K2

      The opening lead is the queen of clubs. Assuming the diamonds will run, making twelve tricks will not be a problem.
I have eleven top tricks and will simply take the heart finesse against the queen; even if it loses, a third heart will be established
in the process. However, because the scoring is matchpoints, plus the fact that one would expect this same contract to be bid
at many tables, it may be essential to bear down and make an overtrick, if it is there to be had.

      So I win the ace of clubs in dummy at trick #1 and lead the jack of hearts, playing low from my hand, and it wins.
I then test the diamonds and play two rounds, just to make sure the suit is running, and everyone follows. I then play off the
top hearts, but the queen does not come down, as LHO shows out on the third round, discarding a club. I now have twelve winners.
I certainly can't afford to finesse dummy's jack of spades now, because if it loses, RHO will cash the established heart and
I will go down. So must I just settle for twelve tricks now?

     Actually, I see a possible play for the overtrick which is risk-free and a certainty, as long as LHO started life with
the QJ10 of clubs, certainly possible on that opening lead. A double-squeeze can be executed, with dummy's 9 of clubs and
10 of hearts serving as threat cards against LHO and RHO respectively. I play off the king of clubs and all but one of my
diamond winners, discarding a low spade and low club from dummy, leaving:

                                                                                ♠ KJ
                                                                                  ♥ 10
                                                                                  ♦ -----
                                                                                  ♣ 9

                                        ♠  ?xx                                                                ♠ ?xx  
                                            ♥ -----                                                                 ♥ Q
                                            ♦ -----                                                                 ♦ -----
                                            ♣ J                                                                     ♣ -----

                                                                                ♠ A53
                                                                                  ♥ -----
                                                                                  ♦ 9
                                                                                  ♣ -----

      Now when I play my last diamond, it does not matter which hand holds the queen of spades. LHO has to keep
her jack of clubs, lest dummy's 9 be established, and so must discard a spade. Now when dummy's club is discarded,
RHO must keep the queen of hearts, or else dummy's 10 will become a winner, and so must also discard a spade.
With each opponent now holding only two spades, a low spade to the king and then back to the ace, and my lowly
3-spot must be a winner for the 13th trick, the full deal being:

                                                                     ♠ KJ4
                                                                       ♥ J1096
                                                                       ♦ 62
                                                                       ♣ A963

                                    ♠ 986                                                       ♠ Q1072
                                      ♥ 74                                                        ♥ Q854
                                      ♦ 854                                                      ♦ 1073
                                      ♣ QJ1054                                                ♣ 87

                                                                   ♠ A53
                                                                     ♥ AK2
                                                                     ♦ AKQJ9
                                                                     ♣ K2

Bridge Column

                                                         To Duck or Not to Duck...

                                                              by Stephen Rzewski


Playing in a Regional Swiss teams event against strong competition, IMPs scoring, I pick up the following hand:

                                                             
AK9 1042 A85 KJ84

I am in 4th seat, and we are non-vul vs. vul. Dealer passes, as does my partner, and RHO opens 2. I hate to make a takeout
double with flat shape and so many of my points in the opponent's suit, and this hand is too good to pass, so I decide to borrow a
point or two and overcall 2NT. LHO passes, and my partner raises to 3NT. The auction has been:


                                                       W          N          E          S

                                                    pass      pass      2        2NT
                                                    pass      3NT     (all pass)

LHO tables the queen of hearts, and when dummy appears, I see that partner has also been stretching her values:

                                                                           
82
                                                                           
A76
                                                                           
K63
                                                                           
109752

                                                                           
AK9
                                                                           
1042
                                                                           
A85
                                                                           
KJ84

To make this ambitious contract, I am going to have to develop the club suit for four tricks. Unfortunately, the defense has
found my weak spot with a heart lead. To begin with, I check the opponents' lead agreements to verify that the queen is a Standard,
and not a Rusinow, honor lead. So how should I plan the play?


My first thought, almost a reflex, is to duck (or to state more accurately, to hold up) dummy's ace. The intent of this play would
be to exhaust RHO of his hearts, so that while I am attempting to set up the clubs and that hand gets on lead, he would not have a
heart to return to his partner. If I were to place the ace of clubs with RHO, I would likely play the clubs somewhat unusually by
leading from dummy and going up with the king, playing West for either Q-x or singleton queen.


But that doesn't feel right. Opening 2 with six spades to the QJ, the king of hearts, and the ace of clubs feels rich and more like a
1
call with that hand, even vulnerable. Furthermore, LHO would not insult his partner by not leading spades unless he thought he had a
good prospect of setting the hand by leading his own suit. And would he do so by leading a heart from QJ98x without a side entry, which
has to be the ace of clubs? That seems highly unlikely, so I am inclined to almost certainly place that critical card on my left. I can
now appreciate the importance of the 10 of hearts in my hand: if RHO holds K-x of hearts, and LHO has the ace of clubs, my best
chance is to go up with the ace of hearts at first play. If RHO does hold K-x and plays low, the hearts will be blocked, and if he
unblocks the king, LHO then holding J9xx will not be able to continue hearts effectively from his side.


When I call for dummy's ace, East thinks for a long time and eventually unblocks the king. I lead the 10 of clubs from dummy and
pass it, underplaying the 8. Inwardly, I heave a sigh of relief as West wins the ace, and the defense has no counter. He tries to get to
his partner's hand with a spade, which I win, and then I lead a diamond to dummy to repeat the club finesse. The queen appears,
and I claim nine tricks, the full deal being: 
 

                                                                               ♠ 82
                                                                                       
A76
                                                                                       
K63
                                                                                       
109752

                                                         
43                                                     QJ10765
                                                        
QJ983                                               K5
                                                        
J942                                                  Q107
                                                        
A6                                                     Q3

                                                                                      
AK9
                                                                                      
1042
                                                                                      
A85
                                                                                      
KJ84

As the reader can see, West could have avoided the problem for the defense if he had led a small heart instead of an honor.
At IMPs, where the primary objective for the defense is to set the contract, he probably should have led small, for once having
decided to embark on the heart suit instead of spades, the defense would probably not have the time to set up the hearts quickly
enough to beat the hand unless his partner held a heart honor.

Bridge Column

                                                           SECOND CHANCE

        On the first hand of a local Sectional pairs event, I pick up as dealer, with neither vul:

                                                  ♠ AKQ953 ♥ 104 ♦ 76 ♣ 954

        This hand is probably as good as one can hold for an opening weak-two bid, and so I open 2♠
(as an aside, if partner should inquire with 2NT, this pure holding of AKQxxx-and-out is shown with
a special rebid of 3NT, whether one plays “Feature” or “Ogust”). LHO competes with 3♦, and partner
jumps to 4♠, ending the brief auction, which has been:

                                           S           W           N          E
                                         2♠           3♦          4♠   (all pass)

        The opening lead is the ♣7, and I contemplate the dummy:

                                                     ♠ J64
                                                     ♥ K95
                                                     ♦ AQ2
                                                     ♣ KJ32


                                                    ♠ AKQ953
                                                    ♥ 104
                                                    ♦ 76
                                                    ♣ 954

        Partner's jump to game is somewhat optimistic, since I could have a much weaker hand for my
weak-two bid, especially when non-vul, but the intervening overcall forced her to guess whether to bid
game or opt for a competitive 3♠, and she liked the positional value of her side honors behind the
overcaller, so I have sympathy. Unfortunately, the club lead makes it appear that East is likely to
hold the missing club honors over dummy, and this is confirmed when I call for the jack, which is
bested by the queen. I follow with the 5. My fear is that the 7 is a singleton, in which case the
defense can beat me off the the top with the play of the ace and another, giving LHO a ruff on the
third round.

        After considerable thought, though, East decides to shift to a heart, giving me a possible
second chance, at least for the moment. This is won by West's ace, and he plays back the jack of
diamonds (note that West's lead of the jack instead of a low card is a “surrounding play”, to prevent
declarer from scoring the 10, should he happen to hold 10-x). I call for the queen, which holds,
East following with the 10.  I draw the ace and king of trumps with both opponents following suit,
and now try to see if there is any way of bringing this contract home, with the following cards remaining:

                                                     ♠ J
                                                     ♥ K9
                                                     ♦ A2
                                                     ♣ K32

                                                     ♠ Q953
                                                     ♥ 10
                                                     ♦ 7
                                                     ♣ 94

        Assuming that RHO holds the A-10 of clubs over dummy's king, it appears that I am destined to
eventually lose two more tricks in that suit. However, if LHO's club was in fact a singleton, I see a
possible way out, as long as he started with at least six diamonds. First, I eliminate the hearts by
playing to the king, then ruff dummy's small heart in my hand, everyone following suit. Now I lead a
diamond to dummy's ace, as RHO shows out. That confirms West's distribution, as he originally started
life with seven diamonds, and has followed to three hearts and two spades, marking him with 2-3-7-1 shape.
Now I play dummy's deuce of diamonds, but instead of ruffing, I discard a small club from hand, trading
a club loser for a diamond loser. LHO is forced to win this trick, and with nothing left but diamonds
in his hand, he must lead one, and I ruff with dummy's last trump while discarding the remaining club
from my hand to make my contract. The full deal:

                                                     ♠ J64
                                                     ♥ K95
                                                     ♦ AQ2
                                                     ♣ KJ32

                               ♠ 108                              ♠ 72
                              ♥ AJ7                              ♥ Q8632
                              ♦ KJ98543                      ♦ 10
                              ♣ 7                                 ♣ AQ1086

                                                     ♠ AKQ953
                                                     ♥ 104
                                                     ♦ 76
                                                     ♣ 954

        East's failure to continue clubs at trick #2 turned out to be an error, but to be fair,
that play could have been wrong on a different layout. Suppose, for example that West had one
less diamond and a doubleton club, giving South three diamonds and two clubs. In that event,
had East played ace and a third club at tricks #2-3, South might have been able to ruff high,
then draw trumps and use the established king of clubs for a diamond discard. Furthermore,
from East's point of view, there appeared to be little danger in defending passively at that
point and waiting for the club tricks to come to him, since it didn't seem at the time that
declarer had any apparent way of getting rid of his club losers.

Bridge Column

                    The Greedy Overtrick (V)

                       by Stephen Rzewski


     Playing in the familiar matchpoint venue at the local club, I 
pick up as dealer:

                ♠ AJ6     ♥ AQJ104   ♦ AK2   ♣ 75

     This 19-count should certainly be upgraded with all its controls
and excellent five-card suit, and as we play Puppet Stayman, I open 2NT. 
The opponents are silent as my partner bids 3♣.  I respond 3♥, showing 
five-card length (both calls are alertable), and partner raises to 4♥. 
The auction has been:

                   S       W      N       E
                  2NT    pass    3♣      pass
                  3♥     pass    4♥    (all pass)

     LHO leads the ace of clubs, and I contemplate the play:

                             ♠ K5
                             ♥ K32
                             ♦ 10764
                             ♣ K1042

                             ♠ AJ6
                             ♥ AQJ104
                             ♦ AK2
                             ♣ 75

     The contract appears normal, and will likely be the one reached 
at most tables.  Those who open 1♥ with my cards will typically be 
given a single constructive raise by partner, or possibly a limit raise,
perhaps resulting in a bad slam contract.  I can’t be concerned about
the latter case, but I need to try to outscore the majority of pairs
who will be in game, and that can only be accomplished on the basis 
of overtricks.

     At trick #1, LHO’s lead of the ace of clubs fetches the jack from
his partner. A low club is continued.  I seriously doubt that LHO would 
have led the ace from AQxxxx with the strong hand on his right, even 
with six of them, so I call for dummy’s king.  This turns out to be 
correct, as RHO follows with the queen.

     With the ace of clubs onside, and what appears to be an almost certain
diamond loser, I would expect the normal result to be 11 tricks, so if I want
to score well, I must look for a way to take the remainder.

     The early play appears to have put me ahead of the game, as dummy’s
♣10 is now good for the discard of a loser, and may provide me with the
12th trick I am seeking.  There is a problem, however:  since I can always
ruff a spade in dummy, the ♣10 has value only if I can use it to get
rid of a diamond.  If I draw trumps first, I won’t be able to ruff a spade,
and if I ruff a spade first and then draw trumps, I will have no entry to 
dummy to enjoy the good club.

     One possibility is to ruff a spade low, then draw two rounds of trumps,
ending in dummy with the king, leaving one high trump outstanding if they 
divide 3-2, then play the good club, hoping that the last trump will be in 
the hand with the long clubs.  That seems to be against the odds, however, 
as the hand with the long clubs is more likely to be short in hearts, meaning
that RHO will probably be able to ruff the good club when I play it.

     I think there are better possibilities.  There is a way to play for
diamonds to be 3-3 and set up dummy's 4th diamond for the 12th trick, and 
if that chance doesn’t pan out, I can always fall back on the finesse of 
the jack of spades for the second overtrick, which is a 50% chance in 
itself.  So in the following position, at the 3rd trick:

                               ♠ K5
                               ♥ K32
                               ♦ 10764
                               ♣ 104

                               ♠ AJ6
                               ♥ AQJ104
                               ♦ AK2
                               ♣ ---

I play the queen and jack of hearts, as both opponents follow suit.
Now if I am going to try to establish dummy’s long diamond, I need
to unblock the ace and king of that suit, taking the slight risk of
having one of those cards ruffed by the opponent who holds the
remaining trump.   Both opponents follow again, LHO contributing the
jack.  I then lead a heart to dummy’s king, as LHO discards and RHO 
follows with the last  trump.  Now I call for the 10 of clubs, RHO 
discarding a low spade and I the deuce of diamonds.  Next comes a 
low diamond from dummy, RHO playing the 9, I ruff, but the hoped-for 
queen does not appear on my left, as that player discards a low club.
So the following cards remain:

                                ♠ K5
                                ♥ ---
                                ♦ 10
                                ♣ 4

                  ♠ ?xx                       ♠ ?xx
                  ♥ ---                       ♥ ---
                  ♦  ---                      ♦ Q
                  ♣ 9                         ♣ ---

                                ♠ AJ6
                                ♥ A
                                ♦ ---
                                ♣ ---

     So should I now take the spade finesse?   

     Actually, at this point that finesse has become an illusion,
as I can now be sure of 12 tricks even if my jack of spades were
the deuce.  Instead of playing immediately on spades, I lead the 
last trump, which creates a double squeeze:  LHO, who has to
discard ahead of dummy, must keep his high club, lest dummy’s card 
in that suit become good, and so lets go a spade.  Now I can discard
dummy’s club, and the pressure then falls on RHO: he has to hold the
queen of diamonds or dummy’s 10 will be established, and so must also
discard a spade.  Since both opponents must be down to two spades in
each hand, it must be right to first play the king, then ace of spades,
making the last spade in my hand good, the full deal being:

                                ♠ K5
                                ♥ K32
                                ♦ 10764
                                ♣ K1042

                 ♠ Q1042                      ♠ 9873
                 ♥ 86                         ♥ 975
                 ♦ J5                         ♦ Q983
                 ♣ A9863                      ♣ QJ

                                ♠ AJ6
                                ♥ AQJ104
                                ♦ AK2
                                ♣ 75

     Of course, the result achieved would not have been possible had it
not been for West's poor choice of opening lead, but when such opportunites
are offered, one needs to exploit them to best advantage.

Bridge Column


                                                         

                     PLAYS I WISH I HAD MADE

                       by Stephen Rzewski


     Following are two hands that came my way in a team match
at the Gatlinburg Regional which I failed to get right at the 
table.  They are difficult problems, but not impossible.  See
if you would have fared better.

     (1)The first is a play problem.  You are South, with the
 auction shown:

                          North

                         ♠ KQ2
                         ♥ 74
                         ♦ QJ763
                         ♣ K32
                                                              

                          South

                         ♠ A109863
                         ♥ Q83
                         ♦ A2
                         ♣ Q7

              W        N        E        S
             1♥        P        P       1♠ 
              P       2♥       dbl      4♠
               (all pass)


     West leads the ace and king of hearts, East following 
low-high.  West then shifts to the jack of spades.  How would 
you proceed (be specific)?


     (2)The next hand is a defensive problem.  You are East,
behind the dummy:

                                     
                  North

                 ♠ J109842
                 ♥ 5
                 ♦ K102
                 ♣ K74

                                     East

                                    ♠ 3
                                    ♥ AKQ2
                                    ♦ J9863
                                    ♣ AJ10

                  E        S        W        N
                 1♦       1♠        P       4♠   
                     (all pass)

     West leads the ace of diamonds, on which you discourage.
Partner shifts to the 8 of clubs, implying that she does not 
have the queen.  This puts you in something of a quandary: 
if by some chance partner’s ace of diamonds was a singleton,
it would be correct to win this trick so as to give her a 
diamond ruff.  But if it should turn out that partner has 
another diamond, then you will need two club tricks to beat
the contract, and playing the ace would be wrong.  You decide
to opt for the latter case and put in the 10, declarer winning 
the queen.

     Declarer then plays the ace and king of spades, partner
following twice, and indicating that declarer overcalled on a 
4-card suit.  Then come three more spades, ending in the dummy,
partner discarding two small hearts and a club.

     You follow to the first spade, but must then make four 
discards.  Which cards do you throw away?

                *********************************

Answers:

     (1)At trick #3, you must play a spade honor from dummy 
and overtake with the ace in your hand!  Next, lead your low 
club toward the dummy.  The full deal:
   
                          North

                         ♠ KQ2
                         ♥ 74
                         ♦ QJ763
                         ♣ K32

            West                         East

           ♠ J                          ♠ 754
           ♥ AK1062                     ♥ J95
           ♦ K105                       ♦ 984
           ♣ A984                       ♣ J1065

                         South

                        ♠ A109863
                        ♥ Q83
                        ♦ A2
                        ♣ Q7

     On your play of the low club, West will be caught in a
“Morton’s Fork” dilemma (see previous column with that title). 
If he goes up with the ace, he will return either a heart or
club, which you will win in your hand.  If he returns a heart,
unblock the queen of clubs, then play two rounds of trumps, 
ending in the dummy, and discard your diamond loser on the 
king of clubs, having no further problems.

     If West ducks the ace of clubs, win the king and play 
dummy’s low spade to your hand (you can now see the need for
the first spade plays, since if you had not unblocked one of
dummy’s honors earlier, you would have no convenient way to
get back to your hand at this point).  Then play the queen 
of hearts, discarding a club from dummy, and exit with a club,
putting West on lead with the following cards left:

                                    
                            ♠ K
                            ♥ ---
                            ♦ QJ763
                            ♣ ---

           ♠ ---                             ♠ 7
           ♥ 10                              ♥ ---
           ♦ K105                            ♦ 984
           ♣ 98                              ♣ J10

                           ♠ 9863
                           ♥ ---
                           ♦ A2
                           ♣ ---

     With a trump still in dummy and the hearts and clubs
eliminated from the N-S hands. West is endplayed, having to
either give you a free diamond finesse, or a ruff in dummy 
and sluff of your low diamond, should he play either a heart 
or a club.


     (2)On the defensive problem, you may discard one diamond 
only, then throw away your ace, king, and queen of hearts! 
The full deal:

                            North

                           ♠ J109842
                           ♥ 5
                           ♦ K102
                           ♣ K74

            West                             East

           ♠76                              ♠ 3
           ♥J87643                          ♥ AKQ2
           ♦ A                              ♦ J9863
           ♣ 8653                           ♣ AJ10

                           South

                          ♠ AKQ5
                          ♥ 109
                          ♦ Q754
                          ♣ Q92

     From your standpoint, if partner did in fact start
with a singleton ace of diamonds, then declarer has four,
and you must keep equal length with him in that suit, lest 
his 4th diamond become good for the game-going trick (partner
should help you here by making an early discard of a diamond, 
if she has one).  So you must discard three hearts.  Look what
will happen on the actual layout if you come down to a stiff 
honor in that suit.  Leaving one trump in dummy, declarer 
will test the diamonds by playing the king, then the 10 (which
you will cover) to his queen.  Knowing that you have a high
diamond left, he will ruff his small diamond with dummy’s last
trump, then lead a heart.  Forced to win that trick, you will
now be endplayed in clubs and obliged to concede a trick to 
dummy’s king.

     So you must simply throw all of your heart honors away
and hope for partner to hold the jack, so that in the end 
she will get in with that card and play a 2nd club through 
the dummy.

     It appears that your side can make 11 tricks in hearts,
but it is difficult to bid 5H over the opponents’ 4S, unless
either your hand elected to open 1H, or if partner made an 
understrength negative double over South’s overcall.

Bridge Column



                     The Greedy Overtrick (IV)

     Playing in a matchpoint contest at your local club, you pick up:

                ♠ ---   ♥ AJ8652   ♦ A1095   ♣ A42

     You are vulnerable, the opponents not, and partner, who is the dealer,
passes.  RHO opens 1♠.   You overcall 2♥, LHO passes, and partner raises to
4♥, which is passed all around.  LHO leads the ♠10, and you now face the
following play problem:

                         ♠ AJ7654
                         ♥ K1074
                         ♦ J3
                         ♣ 5
                                                                   

                         ♠ -----
                         ♥ AJ8652
                         ♦ A1095
                         ♣ A42

     It looks as though you have missed a reasonable slam, since there are 
layouts that may well offer 12 tricks.  However, slam is unlikely to be bid
when there are so many high-card points missing, so you should assume that
the contract figures to be the normal one reached at most, if not all the
other tables.  If you are going to outscore the other declarers, it will 
have to be on the basis of overtricks.  

     If the hearts are divided 2-1, you can draw two rounds of trumps, 
ruff your two small clubs in dummy, discard a diamond on the ace of 
spades, and take a double finesse in diamonds.  As the opening bidder,
RHO is a heavy favorite to hold at least one diamond honor, so this 
line appears to have a good chance to produce 12 tricks.  If you look
deeper, though, you might see an additional extra chance, giving you 
an ultimate pig line that could result in bringing in all 13…..  

     On first glance, dummy’s spades look too anemic to amount to 
anything, especially with RHO bidding the suit and promising at least
5-card length.  However, if RHO has only five spades, and LHO has 
led from either 10-9 or 10-8 doubleton, dummy’s spade spots may be
worth more than one might initially think.

     To begin with, there is no need to play the ace of spades at 
trick #1.  Instead, cover the 10 with the jack.  This will force 
RHO to play the queen, which you will ruff.  You now play the ace 
of hearts, and breathe a little sigh of relief as both opponents 
follow, RHO showing the queen.  Next comes a heart to dummy’s 10 
to draw the last trump, RHO discarding the king of clubs to show 
a solid sequence.  Now you play the ace of spades, on which RHO 
plays the 2, you discard a low diamond, and LHO—bless his soul—
contributes the hoped-for 8-spot.  The position is now, with the
lead in dummy:                                            
                                                              
                   ♠ 7654
                   ♥ K7
                   ♦ J3
                   ♣ 5                                
                                 
                                   (RHO)
                                   ♠ K93  
                                   ♥ ---     
                                   ♦ K72
                                   ♣ QJ10

                   ♠ ---
                   ♥ J865
                   ♦ A109
                   ♣ A42

     Dummy’s spade spots have suddenly become powerful enough to 
take two ruffing finesses through RHO’s remaining high spades.  
Lead the 7, intending to discard a diamond if next hand plays low.
When he covers with the 9 instead, ruff in hand, then play the 
ace of clubs and ruff a club back to dummy.  Now lead another 
spade, forcing RHO to cover with the king, which you ruff again.
Dummy’s lowly 5-4 of spades are now established.  Ruff your last 
club in dummy, play those good spades, and away go your two low
diamonds, scoring +710.  The full deal:

                          ♠ AJ7654
                          ♥ K1074
                          ♦ J3
                          ♣ 5

                                   
          ♠ 108                          ♠ KQ932
          ♥ 93                           ♥ Q
          ♦ Q864                         ♦ K72
          ♣ 98763                        ♣ KQJ10


                          ♠ ----
                          ♥ AJ8652
                          ♦ A1095
                          ♣ A42

Bridge Column

                   THE GREEDY OVERTRICK (III)

                       by Stephen Rzewski

       matchpoints
       vul: none         
                            North

                           ♠ Q109652
                           ♥ A82
                           ♦ 84
                           ♣ A2

                            South

                           ♠ AK743
                           ♥ 6
                           ♦ A9653
                           ♣ 54

         bidding:   S     W     N     E
                   1♠    4♥    4♠ (all pass)

                    opening lead: ♥K  

     Today's deal, from a local club game, once again
illustrates our repeated theme: the contract appears to
be normal and will make easily, with just two apparent
losers.  Not one to settle for a tired average of +450,
can you delve more deeply and find the path to +480,
earning yourself a top in the process?  Trumps are 2-0,
with West being void.  Plan the play.

              ****************************

     The complete deal:

                          ♠ Q109652
                          ♥ A82
                          ♦ 84
                          ♣ A2

             ♠ -----                  ♠ J8
             ♥ KQJ10973               ♥ 54
             ♦ J7                     ♦ KQ102
             ♣ KQ108                  ♣ J9863

                                                                   
                         ♠ AK743
                         ♥ 6
                         ♦ A9653
                         ♣ 54

     For some reason, even many experienced players seem
to have a blind spot when it comes to the possibility of
setting up a long-suit winner.  Having escaped a club lead,
you have the opportunity to establish your 5th diamond for
a club discard from dummy, as long as the diamonds split no
worse than 4-2.

     Win the ace of hearts, draw two rounds of trumps, leaving
one high trump in your hand, then duck a diamond.  If a heart
is returned, ruff in your hand, play the ace and another diamond,
ruffing in dummy.  When West shows out, ruff dummy's last heart
to get back to your hand for a 4th diamond play, again ruffing
in dummy, and establishing the long diamond in your hand.  Now 
lead a trump to your ace, play your last diamond and discard
dummy's small club, scoring up 12 tricks.

Bridge Column

               ONE GOOD COUP DESERVES ANOTHER

                    by Stephen Rzewski

          IMPs
          vul:  N-S
                         ♠ A7
                         ♥ 653
                         ♦ 842
                         ♣ KQJ104

            ♠ K1095                  ♠ 863
            ♥ KQ1094                 ♥ 82
            ♦ 93                     ♦ QJ1076
            ♣ 83                     ♣ A92

                         ♠ QJ42
                         ♥ AJ7
                         ♦ AK5
                         ♣ 765

            bidding:   S      W      N      E

                      1NT    2♦*    2♠      P
                      2NT     P     3NT  (all pass)

                    opening lead:  ♥Q

     In today's deal, both defense and declarer engaged in a
series of thrusts and parries before one side could ultimately
prevail.  The bidding and opening lead may warrant some
explanation:  West's somewhat aggressive 2♦ overcall conven-
tionally promised both majors.  North's 2♠ call was a cue-bid
showing game interest with a stop in that suit. The lead of the
queen from the combination of KQ109 asks partner to play the jack
if he has it; failing that, to give count.  Accordingly, East
signaled with the 8.

     South saw the need to hold up the ace of hearts at trick #1.
In order to make his contract, he has to establish club tricks.
Assuming that West holds all the missing major-suit honors, there
is no danger on the hand if he also holds the ace of clubs.  But if
declarer wins the first trick and it turns out that East holds the
ace, that defender will lead a heart through declarer's J-x, and the
defense will run four more heart tricks.

     The hold-up with AJx when both missing honors can be placed
on the left is called a "Bath Coup", named from the long-ago days
of whist and having some connection with the place of that name
in England. It is actually a simple maneuver which comes up
frequently in both notrump and suited play.  Its effect is to
prevent the defense from continuing the suit without giving up a
2nd winner for declarer.  Since it typically forces the defense
to play on other suits, declarer may not want to make this play
if he fears a shift to something else.

     West contemplated what to do next.  It seemed to him that
if declarer held the ace of clubs, he was likely to fulfill his
contract, so he hypothetically placed that card in his partner's
hand.  It might be possible for the defense to duck early club
leads and isolate the long cards in the dummy, but the ace of
spades would still be there for a late entry.  West therefore
decided that it might be advisable to play on spades.  It would
do no good to lead a low spade if declarer held the queen, so
West played the king (!) of spades at trick #2.

     This sacrifice of an unsupported honor, the intent of
which is to kill an entry to dummy, is known as a "Merrimac
Coup".  In this particular case, it resulted in giving declarer
three spade tricks instead of two, but the investment may come
back by possibly depriving declarer of at least two of the long
clubs.

     South won with the ace (it would do no good to duck, since
West would just lead a 2nd spade) and then played the king and 
queen of clubs.  As one would expect with good defenders, West
played high-low in clubs, indicating a doubleton, and East
recognized the need to hold up his ace of clubs for two rounds,
leaving the following cards:

                         ♠ 7
                         ♥ 65
                         ♦ 842
                         ♣ J104

            ♠ 1095                   ♠ 86
            ♥ K1094                  ♥ 2
            ♦ 93                     ♦ QJ1076
            ♣ ----                   ♣ A

                         ♠ QJ4
                         ♥ AJ
                         ♦ AK5
                         ♣ 7

     South has scored the ace of spades and two clubs,
and he has five more top winners.  It now looks as though
he is headed for down one.  But declarer had one more
trick up his sleeve:  he knew that West would not have made
his two-suited overcall without at least nine cards in the
major suits, and since he had followed to both club leads, 
he could not have more than two diamonds.  So South executed
a play known as the "Dentist Coup" by playing the ace and
king of diamonds, thereby extracting West's potential exit
cards in that suit.  He then cashed the queen and jack of
spades and exited with his last spade.  West was in with
the 10, and with nothing left in his hand but hearts, he
was endplayed and forced to lead into South's ace-jack
tenace, enabling declarer to score the game-going trick
with the jack of hearts after all.

Bridge Column

               THE GREEDY OVERTRICK (II)

                      by Stephen Rzewski

       Matchpoints                      
                         ♠ K
                         ♥ KQ108
                         ♦ A72
                         ♣ AK1064

                         ♠ 87532
                         ♥ AJ942
                         ♦ 6
                         ♣ 83

       bidding:  N      E      S      W
                1♣      P     1♥     2♦  
                4♥     (all pass)

                opening lead: ♦K  

     This deal came up at a local club game, slightly
amended.  With such poor spades and a weak hand overall, 
South decided to show his better suit, thinking that he
may get only one opportunity to bid, and he might not want
to play spades anyway unless partner could bid them.  Just
as in our previous example on this subject, the contract is
normal and will undoubtedly be the one played at most
tables.  In order to achieve a good matchpoint result, it
may be necessary to bring in overtricks that might be missed
by the rest of the field.  How would you plan the play?

     When a hand is two-suited, it is usually good strategy
for declarer to try to establish his second suit, ruffing leads
of that suit in the dummy, if necessary.  Ruffing in the hand
with shorter trump length (typically dummy) usually gains tricks
as well, since the greater trump length in declarer's hand is
maintained in the process.  In this case, however, declarer's
spades are so poor and difficult to establish that it is better
to work on the superior club suit and make dummy the master
hand.  Since the most likely club division is 4-2, one may have 
to ruff clubs twice in order to make the 5th club good.

     There is a further advantage in making dummy the master
hand:  since declarer's hand has a singleton diamond, both of
dummy's small diamonds can also be ruffed out.  The technique
of ruffing in the long hand to the point where dummy's trump
length eventually exceeds that of declarer's is known as
"reversing the dummy".  For this type of play to be successful,
one needs:  (1) trumps in the short hand which are strong
enough to eventually draw the opponents' trumps (assuming that
trumps will need to be drawn), (2) a number of ruffs to be 
available in the long hand, which will result in a total net
gain of tricks, and (3) sufficient entries to the short hand
needed to execute those maneuvers.

     In this example, you may want to take as many as four
minor-suit ruffs in your hand, and you will therefore need to
delay the drawing of trumps and make maximum use of dummy's
entries.  Accordingly, win the opening lead with the ace of
diamonds and ruff a diamond immediately.  Next play a club
to the king, ruff dummy's last diamond, and then play a second
club to dummy's ace.  Both opponents follow to this trick,
leaving:

                        ♠ K
                        ♥ KQ108
                        ♦ ----
                        ♣ 1064

                        ♠ 87532
                        ♥ AJ4
                        ♦ ----
                        ♣ ----

     Now lead a third round of clubs from dummy.  On
the actual hand, East will follow with the jack, and
you should take care to ruff high to prevent a possible
overruff, which proves to be necessary, as West shows
out, discarding a diamond.  Now lead your low trump to 
dummy, and when both opponents follow, you are assured
of twelve tricks.  Lead a 4th round of clubs next; East
will play the queen as you ruff with your last trump 
in hand, the ace.  Dummy's 5th club is now good.  At
this point, simply exit with a spade, conceding that
trick, then ruff the continuation and draw the remaining
trumps with the KQ in dummy.  The full deal:


                        ♠ K
                        ♥ KQ108
                        ♦ A72
                        ♣ AK1064

           ♠ AQJ4                    ♠ 1096
           ♥ 7                       ♥ 653
           ♦ KQJ1093                 ♦ 854
           ♣ 97                      ♣ QJ52

                        ♠ 87532
                        ♥ AJ942
                        ♦ 6
                        ♣ 83

     As one might expect, the majority of scores on this
deal were +620 and +650; only two pairs found the dummy
reversal and tied for top with +680.

Bridge Column


                   DEPT. OF DEFENSE

                  by Stephen Rzewski

  Problem #1:

    matchpoints        North
    vul:  none        (dummy)

                      ♠ J1082
                      ♥ 1097
                      ♦ AK9
                      ♣ Q64

       West                                           
      (you)

      ♠ K65                                                
      ♥ J5                                               
      ♦ 1076                                                 
      ♣ AK873

			
     bidding:   W      N      E     S
              pass   pass    1♦    1♥
               2♣     2♥     (all pass)       

	You start with the ace-king of clubs, partner
following first with the jack, then the 10.  You continue 
with the 8 of clubs (asking for a spade return).  Partner
ruffs with the 8 of hearts and dutifully returns the 9 
of spades.  Declarer pauses for a moment, then follows 
low, as you win with the king.  Now what?

             *****************************

  Problem #2:

		
                       North
                      (dummy)

                      ♠ Q972
                      ♥ 865
                      ♦ K94
                      ♣ AK4

       West                                            
      (you)

      ♠ 543                                                
      ♥ QJ10                                                
      ♦ J86                                               
      ♣ J976

                                      
      bidding:    S      W      N      E

                 1NT   pass    2♣     pass
                 2♠    pass    4♠    (all pass)
                     (1NT = 15-17 hcp)

	You lead the queen of hearts, and upon seeing 
dummy, reflect that in North’s place you would have 
eschewed Stayman and bid 3NT directly with the flat
distribution.  Partner signals encouragement with the
7, as declarer wins the ace.  Declarer then draws trumps
with the ace, king, and jack from his hand, partner 
following twice before discarding the deuce of hearts. 
Declarer then plays the ace-king of clubs and a low 
club to his queen, everyone following.  Then he exits 
with a heart; you play the 10, and partner overtakes 
with the king before playing a 3rd heart to your jack, 
once again everyone following suit.  What do you now 
play, looking at:

		
                                                                 
                         ♠ Q
                         ♥ ---
                         ♦ K94
                         ♣ ---

                                   
          ♠ ---                                               
          ♥ ---                                              
          ♦ J86                                              
          ♣ J                                    

                 **************************

   Problem #1:
                                   
                         ♠ J1082
                         ♥ 1097
                         ♦ AK9
                         ♣ Q64

        ♠ K65                          ♠ Q94
        ♥ J5                           ♥ KQ8
        ♦ 1076                         ♦ QJ832
        ♣ AK873                        ♣ J10

                         ♠ A73
                         ♥ A6432
                         ♦ 54
                         ♣ 952

	You should lead your lowest club, asking partner
to ruff as high as he can, so as to achieve an “uppercut”
and promote your jack of hearts.  Partner figures to have
two trumps remaining after the club ruff; if he holds
either K-x or Q-x, declarer will be able to pick up the 
remaining trumps unless you make this play now.  At this
point, you are perhaps not being so optimistic about 
setting the contract, but it is matchpoints, and overtricks
can be very significant in this kind of situation.  As it
is, partner’s trump holding is stronger than you anticipated,
and your play results in scoring two more trump tricks 
instead of one, since if declarer gets in quickly, he can 
play ace of hearts and another, bringing down your
remaining trumps together and scoring up his contract. 
Result:  down one instead.

   Problem #2:
                          ♠ Q972
                          ♥ 865
                          ♦ K94
                          ♣ AK4

        ♠ 543                            ♠ 108
        ♥ QJ10                           ♥ K742
        ♦ J86                            ♦ A1032
        ♣ J976                           ♣ 1032


                          ♠ AKJ6
                          ♥ A93
                          ♦ Q75
                          ♣ Q85

	Playing the jack of clubs in the end position 
will give declarer a ruff-and-sluff, so you must break 
the diamond suit, but you must do so with extreme caution.
Declarer has shown up so far with 14 high-card points, 
so you know precisely that he holds the queen of diamonds
and partner holds the ace.  If declarer has the 10, the 
party is over, so place that card in your partner’s hand
as well.

     If you lead the 6, declarer will play low from dummy,
and your partner will have to put up the 10 to force the 
queen.  Declarer can now lead low to the 9 and force 
partner’s ace, losing only one trick in the suit.  If you
start with the jack, declarer may go wrong if he plays you 
for the 10, but if he reads the position, he can put up 
dummy’s queen.  Partner can win the ace, but he will be 
endplayed by having to lead away from the 10 to dummy’s 9.

     It is critical that you lead the 8 of diamonds, the 
only choice that is foolproof.   If the 9 is played from
dummy, partner will cover with the 10, declarer winning 
the queen.  If the 7 is played next, you must cover with 
the jack:  the king and ace will be played over those cards,
and your 6 will become the setting trick!  

	For those of you who recall our previous column 
entitled “Surrounding Play”, you will see that the lead of 
the 8 is a play of that type, as declarer’s 7 is effectively
surrounded and captured by your J-6.