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A Nice Endplay

West Deals
Both Vul
8 5
6 5 4
Q 8 7 5 2
A 10 7
A J 10 9 6 2
K J 2
K 5 3
West North East South
3 Pass Pass 3
All Pass

West leads the J. Now, how are you going to make this contract?
It looks like you have three heart losers, a club loser and at least one spade loser.
Larry Weil (larry), of Cambridge MA, guessed spades right, and found a nice endplay to make his contract.
He won the club lead in dummy, and played the 8 from dummy, ducked all around. Another spade was led, to East's queen and Larry's ace, West following small.
Larry then cashed the A before throwing East in with the third round of trumps. East, stuck with the lead and no hearts to his name, had no satisfying exit.
If he led a low diamond, Larry would pitch a small heart from his hand, and, if West won, West would be endplayed (assuming West's J was a singleton.)
If he led the K, Larry would again pitch a heart, and East would have to give up a trick in whichever minor he led next.
In practice, East led a low club, which Larry allowed to ride to the ten in dummy, giving him his ninth trick.
Notice that West's bidding and lead allowed Larry to make the inferences necessary to bring this contract home. Without the bidding, the auction might likely go 1-1NT-3-Pass, and Larry would have had no guide on how to play the hand.
Also, notice East made a fatal error by not splitting his honors in trumps. In this case, he needed to split his honors simply to preserve his small trump as an exit card.
Richard Pavlicek has noted, via email, that declarer can still make with an endplay if East splits his honors. Declarer plays the ace, and exits with the trump jack. East wins and exits with a trump.
Declarer cashes his A and runs all of the spades leading to this position on the last spade:
6 5
Q 8
10 7
A Q 10 9
x x
K x
Q 9 x x
K J 2
K 5
If East pitches a club, declarer plays the K and another club, and East must give up a diamond at the end.
If East pitches a diamond, declarer plays the K to West, who is then endplayed into leading diamonds, which forces East to lead clubs - a stepping-stone endplay!
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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