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Wrong-sided III

None Vul
A K J 9
J 7
10 8 5 3
K 8 3
8 6 5 3
A Q 9 8 3 2
A
A 4
 
10 7 4
10 6 4
J 6 4
J 10 7 5
Q 2
K 5
K Q 9 7 2
Q 9 6 2
The only game that North/South can make is 4 declared by South.
Clearly, no other game can make, since West always gets three aces, so minor games cannot make, and West can start hearts immediately to get 5 heart tricks and two aces against either a notrump or heart contract.
If North declares spades, it is obvious that if East leads hearts, West can win four top tricks. Somewhat surprisingly, though, North can actually be held to seven tricks in spades. With North declarer, East leads a heart, and West takes two hearts before leading a spade. Say declarer plays low and South is forced to win with the spade queen. Now, if declarer draws trumps before leading a minor, West gets in with a minor ace to take his hearts. So North ducks a diamond to West, and West now leads a heart, and North can't afford to ruff in hand, so must ruff in South, leading to this position:
A K J
10 8 5
K 8
8 6 5
8 3 2
A 4
 
7 4
J 6
J 10 7 5
K Q 9 7
Q 9 6 2
Twist and turn as he might, North can not avoid losing control from this position.
So, why does 4 make when declared by South?
The trick is that East never gets into his hand, so the only way to force ruffs of the heart suit is for West to lead hearts. This not only loses a trick to the K, but it also loses a tempo.
Say West leads the A and another heart.
South wins the K and leads a low diamond to West's ace.
A K J 9
10 8 5
K 8 3
8 6 5 3
9 8 3 2
A 4
 
10 7 4
4
J 6
J 10 7 5
Q 2
K Q 9 7
Q 9 6 2
What does West lead now?
On a trump lead, South wins and leads a club from hand, and West wins his ace. (Or declarer wins, draws trumps and scores a total of four trumps, a heart, four diamonds, and a club.)
On lead now, West can either lead a heart or spade. On a spade, North draws trump and claim. On a heart, South ruffs with the 2, crosses to the K and claims.
So maybe West should have led a heart when in with the A?
In that case, South ruffs with 2 and leads a low club. Again, West must win his A or it is all over, leading to this position:
A K J 9
10 8 5
K
8 6 5 3
8 3 2
4
 
10 7 4
J 6
J 10 7
Q
K Q 9 7
Q 9 6
If West leads a spade, declarer draw trump and claims.
If West leads a heart, declarer ruffs in South with the Q, crosses to the K, draws trumps and claims.
<< A Good Break
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2014.
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