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A Slow Coup

9 8
A K 7
A 9 8 5 4 3 2
K 7 5 2
9 4
K Q J 7
Q 9 8
10 6 4
Q 8 5 3 2
J 10 6 4
A Q J 3
J 10 6
A K 7 5 3
Can North/South make any game?
In 5 , the defense gets three trumps.
Can 3 NT make? It's hard to see how without a little help from the defense. Declarer has six top tricks, with a two more which can set be up in spades and one more in clubs, or, even more slowly, in his long diamond suit. Timing is difficult, however. For example, on a club lead, one entry to the South hand is lost, and when declarer leads a spade from North, East covers with the ten, which blocks the spade suit.
What about 4 ? On a trump lead, win the queen, cash the minor winners, cross with a heart to dummy, then ruff a diamond (overruffing East if necessary), ruff a club, and ruff (or overruff) another diamond. East's best defense is to attempt to keep you from scoring your small trump, so he should ruff ahead of you at each opportunity, so the end position becomes:
9 8 5 4
K 7 5
Q 8 5 3
J 10
7 3
Note, you've ruffed once with your ace.
The A is still available for one more diamond lead off dummy, and you finally get to ruff with your three, East out of trumps.
You score all four trumps in the South hand, a club ruff in North, and five top tricks in the other suits. Amusingly, the three defensive tricks are West's remaining trumps.
I believe this extended effort to score the trump three is what Kelsey and Ottlik call an "elopement" play.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2009.
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