TEST YOUR PLAY (III) by Stephen Rzewski IMPs North ♠ AKJ2 ♥ AK7 ♦ K7 ♣ 9863 South ♠ 1085 ♥ Q82 ♦ A4 ♣ AK1042 bidding: S W N E 1♣ P 1♠ P 1NT P 2♦ P 2♠ P 3♣ P 3♦ P 6♣ (all pass) opening lead: ♦ J North’s 2♦ bid at his 2nd turn was a conventional forcing call (“New Minor Forcing”). South’s 2♠ showed 3-card support in case North held a 5-card suit. North’s 3♣ in this sequence was a natural slam try in that suit. When South bid 3♦, he was making an encouraging cue-bid, implying good clubs (with a less suitable hand, he would have signed off in 3NT). You win the king of diamonds in dummy and lead a low club to the ace. On this trick, East follows with the 5, and West plays the queen. Plan the play. * * * * * * * The complete deal: North ♠ AKJ2 ♥ AK7 ♦ K7 ♣ 9863 West East ♠ 764 ♠ Q93 ♥ 10654 ♥ J93 ♦ J1095 ♦ Q8632 ♣ QJ ♣ 75 South ♠ 1085 ♥ Q82 ♦ A4 ♣ AK1042 This hand came from a Swiss teams match at a Sectional tournament. At one table, South was a somewhat experienced player, who had read and learned the “Rule of Restricted Choice” (see an earlier article on this website, entitled “Find the Jack”, hand #1). He knew with this club combination that when an honor appears on the left, the percentage play is to finesse on the 2nd round of the suit against a probable holding of J-x-x on the right. So he played a heart to dummy, led the ♣9 and passed it when East played the 7. This lost to the jack. Later, he had to fall back on the finesse for the queen of spades, which you can see was offside. Result: down 1 and certainly bad luck, as declarer’s choice of plays gave him better than an 80% chance of landing his contract. This sort of result feels embarrassing, as an inexperienced player, who would not know about Restricted Choice, would typically play off the top clubs and make the contract easily. At the other table, South was a player of even greater experience. He also knew about Restricted Choice, but chose to spurn the finesse and played the top clubs, catching West’s doubleton Q-J, just as the novice would. So why did he choose to ignore the “right” play? Because he saw that if the finesse actually did work (East holding J-x-x in trumps), he didn’t need to take it. If West were to show out on the 2nd high club, declarer would play off his remaining high diamond and heart winners, then throw East in with a club to his jack. East would now be endplayed, either by leading a spade to dummy’s tenace, or playing a red card, allowing South to sluff his losing spade while ruffing in dummy. The chance of this line succeeding: virtually 100%. The moral: Always consider the technically correct play of any given holding within the context of the complete deal.