Ross Taylor

It’s your play – first solution

Playing in a KO teams semi final, you find yourself with two back to back defensive problems, early in the match. Here is the first hand. Sitting South, holding K1075 10 AJ AJ9642, a spirited auction propels the opponents to no man’s land in 5 hearts.


The auction was (they are red, we are not) 


North East South West
Pass Pass 1C Dble
Pass 1H 1S 4H
4S Pass Pass 5H
Pass Pass Pass  


You guess to lead the spade 7, third from an even number. Dummy is : 




The spade is ducked to declarer’s jack, partner playing the three. Declarer now leads the diamond 6 from hand. You rise with the Ace, partner playing the deuce. It’s your play. 

I guess people are reluctant to post solutions to this kind of quiz, though I did receive several emails. The winning (and only) defense is to win the Ace of diamonds; cash the Ace of clubs (partner plays the ten) and then play another club. This second club uppercuts the dummy. The full layout was :


Dealer: North

Vul: EW

West   East
AQ9 J6
AKQ82 9543
K1083 Q6
7 KQ853


Note North’s gutsy bid of 4S, giving his side a chance to go plus, when West took the bait and bid up to 5H. Should this defense be found?

Well, there must be a reason declarer did not simply draw trumps – a paucity of hand entries – seems to indicate North has the Jack of hearts – likely three hearts, since with a 5-5 fit, declarer could safely draw trumps in almost any scenario.

So North has Jxx of hearts, four or five spades (likely four as the deuce is missing at trick one), and his diamond deuce at trick two would indicate holding five of them – assuming it’s an honest count card. Ergo, North has likely at most one club. Besides, if this is not the layout, how do you propose to beat this contract?

I think the declarer had a blind spot – which often happens when the long trumps are in dummy. He can count five hearts, three spades (by repeating the finesse); a diamond, a diamond ruff in hand, and a club trick after the Ace is knocked out.

Declarer should simply win the spade jack; finesse the spade queen; cash three hearts, and play a club, knocking out the ace. Q.E.D.


Chuck ArthurMarch 15th, 2010 at 9:48 am

Wow! West sure had his Wheaties for breakfast. Having heard nothing but the minimum forced response to his takeout double, he has now bid to the five level all by himself. Leading my trump is unlikely to do much good, since I can only do it once. Leading another spade will give declarer something that he may find it inconvenient to do for himself. I lead the Jack of diamonds, giving declarer nothing that he doesn’t already have for himself. It is difficult to construct a hand for which this gives away the contract, yet another beats it.

John GowdyMarch 18th, 2010 at 2:13 am

I could not come up with a hand except J2 Jxx Qx KQxxxx where it was not possibe to play a S at trick 2, and on that hand I was playing 1C doubled – not defending 5 hearts !

Thought this was versus ‘best play’. Feels like the club ace was the only shot but …….. could never be right on any best play/bid lines

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