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An Even Break

North Deals
None Vul
A Q J 8 3
K J 6
A Q J 5
10 6 5 4 2
A 10
Q 10 7 6 2
9 7 4
A 9 8 3
K 9 7 3 2
K 7
Q 8 5 3 2
K J 4
10 8 6
West North East South
1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 Pass 3 NT
All Pass

West led the 2, East won the ace and continued with the 9. Declarer played the jack, West won the queen, and inexplicably shifted to a club. Perhaps West thought that partner had started with A-9-3.
Declarer lost the club finesses, and East continued with another diamond, which declarer won. (Declarer pitched two hearts from dummy on the diamonds.)
Declarer played the K and A, and found out about the bad spade split. If spades had split remotely kindly, 3 NT would have been in the bag, with five spade tricks, three clubs, and a diamond.
Our declarer was still able to make his contract. Running the clubs, declarer came down to the following position:
Q J 8
10 6 5
9 7
7 6
Q 8 5 3 2
West can safely pitch a heart and a diamond of the first two clubs, but now is stuck. Obviously, he must keep the A, and just as obviously, he must keep three spades. Therefore the only card to part with is the 10. Now declarer exits with the K, and West is forced to win and lead away from the 10.
West's club switch was awful, and declarer was able to use it to his advantage. Remember, never give a sucker an even break.
Larry Cohen noted that it is far better for declarer to not take the club finesse when West switched to clubs. Then declarer can make if spades are 4-2 or better or hearts are 3-2 or a couple of other friendly instances such as west holding stiff ten or nine of hearts.
<< Counting It Out
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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