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Trashing Entries

Q 9 5 4
A Q J 7 3
6 3
A Q
K 8 6
9 5 4 2
A J
9 7 5 2
 
J 10 7 3
K 8 6
10 4
K 10 4 3
A 2
10
K Q 9 8 7 5 2
J 8 6
This is our first Double Asymmetry where immediate shortness and ruffing does not obviously contribute to some of the asymmetry.

Three Notrump, by North

North, declaring 3 NT, cannot make against best defense. East leads a low spade, and declarer ducks. West wins the king and continues spades. This puts North in a quandary - he has lost his only entry to dummy before the diamonds are set up.
Still, he has what appears to be two club tricks, two spade tricks, four heart tricks, and a diamond, if he can get them in time.
So declarer leads the 10, finessing, and East ducks.
Declarer then finesses in clubs, and East wins. At this position:
Q 9
A Q J 7
6 3
A
8
9 5 4
A J
9 7 5
 
J 10
K 8
10 4
10 4 3
K Q 9 8 7 5 2
J 8
East can set declarer by leading a spade; the defense eventually getting a total of two spades, a club, a heart, and a diamond.

Three Notrump, by South

The spade lead from East served two functions - first, it killed South's entry to the long diamonds, and second, it did so without providing declarer a second entry to North's hand.
If South declares, on the other hand, West can kill the diamond suit by leading the K, but this give South two things in return. The first is the immediate tempo advantage of having his second spade trick set up right away. The second is that the spade suit provides an interesting threat to East at the end position.
After the K lead, South wins the A, and the play proceeds much as above. Declarer leads the 10, ducked all around. Declarer then takes the club finesse. East wins at this position:
Q 9 5
A Q J 7
6 3
A
8 6
9 5 4
A J
9 7 5
 
J 10 7
K 8
10 4
10 4 3
2
K Q 9 8 7 5 2
J 8
East naturally leads the J, West unblocks the eight and declarer's queen wins. Declarer then unblocks the A, and leads a diamond to the king. West must duck the first diamond. If he wins and shifts to spades, his side gets two spades, the A, and the K, but then the diamonds are good.
Declarer then strands himself completely by continuing diamonds. West wins at this position:
9 5
A Q J 7
6
9 5 4
9 7
 
10 7
K 8
10 4
Q 9 8 7 5
J
West obviously cannot lead a club, or South's hand is good.
If West leads a spade, East gets his two spade tricks, but then must surrender the rest of the tricks by leading a heart (setting up North) or a club (to the good South hand.)
If West leads a heart, South hops up with the A and continues hearts, and again East is thrown in, this time with the 9 a threat in dummy.
Whatever West leads, his side can only get two more tricks.
Perhaps East should not have exited a spade when in with the K? It does not matter; declarer can reach a substantially similar end-position:
Q 9 5
A Q J 7
8 6
9 5 4
9 7
 
J 10 7
K 8
10 4
2
Q 9 8 7 5
J
West again on lead with the A, and again the defense cannot take more than two tricks. This time, if West leads a heart, declarer wins the ace, exits a heart, and then must duck the first spade to finish the endplay.
So, 3 NT makes only if declared by South on the above hand.

Five Diamonds, by South

Q 9 5 4
A Q J 7 3
6 3
A Q
K 8 6
9 5 4 2
A J
9 7 5 2
 
J 10 7 3
K 8 6
10 4
K 10 4 3
A 2
10
K Q 9 8 7 5 2
J 8 6
Now, what about the 5 contract?
West leads a club, and the finesse is taken. East continues a club. Declarer then leads the A and , forcing East to cover. Declarer ruffs low, and must ruff his good J in dummy to pitch his spade loser on the J. Declarer is now at this position:
Q 9 5 4
7 3
6
K 8 6
9
A J
9
 
J 10 7 3
10 4
10
A
K Q 9 8 7 5
Declarer cannot avoid a second diamond loser. If he leads a diamond to the king, West wins the ace and continues with the 9. East ruffs with the 10, and West's J is promoted.
The attack of the club suit killed a vital entry. Without that lead, declarer could afford to pitch the spade loser after the trumps are drawn.

Five Diamonds, by North

So maybe 5 can make if North declares? Indeed, it can. It may appear that East can lead a spade to set the contract, but that is an illusion.
North calls for the A, then plays the A and Q immediately. East must cover, and declarer ruffs. Declarer then leads the K, West winning at this position:
Q 9 5
J 7 3
6
A Q
K 8
9 5
J
9 7 5 2
 
J 10 7
8
10
K 10 4 3
2
Q 9 8 7 5
J 8 6
West is caught in something like "Morton's Fork." If he cashes the K, declarer can pitch two clubs on major-suit winners in hand. And if West does not cash the K, the spade winner vanished on the J. In either case, declarer is able to get rid of one of his black suit losers.

Post-mortem

This is a rather astounding deal.
Okay, I warned you these would be complicated.
The two black suit holdings are providing subtle protection, even though they look like traditional guards. In both cases, the ace of the suit is providing a vital entry, and in both cases, that entry can be knocked out safely from only one side.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 2000-2009.
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