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.