September 8th, 2005

Bridge column

                                TEST YOUR PLAY (II)

                                by Stephen Rzewski

                       vul:  both
                       dlr:  South

                                     ♠ K5
                                     ♥ AQ102
                                     ♦ J9
                                     ♣ QJ1054


                                     ♠ AQ
                                     ♥ K43
                                     ♦ A87632
                                     ♣ 93

                      bidding:   S     W     N     E

                                 1♦    P    2♣     P
                                 2♦    P    2♥     P
                                2NT    P   3NT  (all pass)

                                opening lead:  ♠ J

	This hand came up in a Flight A Regional Swiss teams match.  As is often 
the case in tight competition, 6 of the 7 boards played were pushes.  The match
was won (& lost) on this board, where one declarer solved the hand, and the other
did not.  How would you have fared?  Plan the play.

          *          *          *          *          *          *         *    

	The complete deal:


                                     ♠ K5 
                                     ♥ AQ102
                                     ♦ J9
                                     ♣ QJ1054

                    West                             East

                   ♠ J10972                         ♠ 8643
                   ♥ 76                             ♥ J985
                   ♦ 105                            ♦ KQ4
                   ♣ A762                           ♣ K8


                                     ♠ AQ
                                     ♥ K43
                                     ♦ A87632
                                     ♣ 93

	The duplication in spades is annoying, since if you had a 3rd spade in 
either hand, you could simply establish the clubs.  That won’t work with the 
spade lead on the actual holding, because you would have to give up the lead 
twice in the club suit, and in the meantime the defense will have at least three
spade tricks set up so as to beat you.  So your only alternative is to go after
those anemic diamonds and envision a layout that will enable you to set up that
suit while giving up the lead only once.

	The odds are against you, but there are a few holdings that will work. 
What you have to hope for is a doubleton holding in the West hand which includes
the 10, with or without an honor, that is, either 10-x, K-10, or Q-10.  In all 
those cases, you must start the diamond plays from your hand, so win the ace of
spades and lead a low diamond toward dummy.

	In the cases where West holds K-10 or Q-10, most players will play the
high honor out of a reasonable fear of losing it, especially since declarer might
be leading from a strong holding headed by A-Q or A-K.  If West plays the 10 
instead, the jack will force the honor in the East hand.  Declarer can play the
ace when in next, dropping the stiff honor in West’s hand, and the suit will now
be good—that is, provided that declarer reads the position.

        If West wins the first diamond and presumably leads another spade, you 
will win the king in dummy and lead the jack of diamonds, pinning West’s remaining
10.  If East doesn’t cover, let the jack ride, then come to your hand with a 
heart, play the ace of diamonds and run the suit.

	If West holds 10-x, as in the actual hand, he will likely follow with his
low spot card at trick #2.  Put in the 9, forcing a high honor from East.  Win 
the spade continuation in dummy, and once again lead the jack of diamonds, 
intending to pass it as before if East does not cover.

	If West, holding 10-x, plays the 10 on the first diamond lead, he will 
create a problem for declarer.  Since a singleton 10 holding would be irrelevant,
as South can not play the suit for one loser if East has K-Q-x-x, South will 
have to guess on the second diamond play whether to run the 9, playing for East
to have started with K-Q-x, or go up with the ace, playing for West to have 
started with Honor-10.  

        This all means that, whether West holds honor-10 or 10-x, his best play
is actually to first play the 10 in each case (although admittedly a much more 
difficult play to make with the honor-10 holding), creating an ambiguity and 
forcing South to guess which play to make on the second diamond lead.  Probably
only a sophisticated defender, (or a naïve one, perhaps “giving count”) would 
make that play in tempo, however.  

	If you envisioned the right line (and presumably did not get the play 
of the 10 on the first diamond lead), your team gained 730 points (+630 & +100),
which translates into +12 IMPs and the match; nice going.