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Entry Problems

A K Q 9 7 4
A
A Q 7 3
10 6
8 6 3
8 6 4
9 5 4
Q 7 3 2
 
J 10
9 7 5 3
K 10 8
K J 8 4
5 2
K Q J 10 2
J 6 2
A 9 5
North/South have 13 top tricks - six spades, five hearts, and two minor aces. But they can't make even twelve tricks in spades or notrump on a club lead - the club ace is the only entry to the hearts, and this lead kills the entry before the heart suit is unblocked.
So what slam makes? 6 , of course. Win the club lead, cash the heart ace, and play three spades, ruffing (overruffing East if necessary.) Then draw trumps. North still has the diamond ace as an entry to finish the spades for twelve tricks.
If the defense leads diamonds instead, then the spade ruff isn't needed, and declarer gets all 13 tricks the hands started with.
This turns out to be a common reason for playing in a 5-1 fit - entry problems keep you from otherwise scoring your tricks in that suit if played in other denominations.
A similar, but subtler, deal:
K 8 5 2
K
7 5 4
A Q 10 4 3
A Q J 7
J 7 4
9 8 6 2
J 5
 
6 3
8 6 5 3
K Q 3
9 8 7 6
10 9 4
A Q 10 9 2
A J 10
K 2
In 6 NT, the defense sets up a diamond on opening lead, and cashes it when in with the spade ace.
In 6 , the diamond lead also kills an entry - without it, the defense cannot draw trumps, then run the hearts. The apparent entry in clubs is an illusion in this contract, because of the need to draw trumps before running hearts.
But in 6 , declarer wins the first diamond, unblocks the hearts, crosses back to the K, draws trumps, then runs clubs, pitching three spades. Finally, declarer sets up his twelfth trick by leading a diamond off dummy.
If the defense takes the A first, before shifting to the diamond, then declarer has the twelfth trick in spades, instead.
<< A Variation
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2014.
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