Connect with friends; sharpen the grey cells.
Nobody found the correct line of play in today’s deal from a match-point event. See whether it strikes you. Consider yourself a super expert if you are able to find the solution.
Contract: 6NT by south. West leads the SJ. Plan the play.
Bidding comment: South’s rebid indicated 12-14 points and a balanced hand. North made a practical bid of 6NT, for he was able to count a minimum of 33 points in the two hands put together.
Analysis: You have ten tricks on top. The eleventh trick can be developed by giving up a trick to the HK. What about the twelfth?
If the hearts or the clubs divide 3-3, you have contract in the bag.
Play: Accordingly, you win the opening lead in hand and play a heart to dummy’s honours. The defence refuses to part with the king. You should realise that it is unlikely someone has ducked with K-x. Let us say you enter hand by the HA.
You are at the crossroads now, having to decide whether to play a third heart or not.
i) Playing for 3-3 clubs now, will be correct if east has ducked with H K-T-8-x.
ii) Playing a third heart will be right if west has the HK or if hearts are 3-3.
Do you persist with hearts or try your luck in clubs? How do you resolve this? It looks challenging, doesn’t it?
The point to recognise is that the defenders have made it difficult for you by ducking with the HK.
Can they duck twice? If they do, that will be your twelfth trick!
So, the correct play after the first heart is ducked is to enter hand by means of club or diamond and lead a small heart again towards dummy.
a) If west plays small, put up the honour. If it wins, it is all over. If it loses and east returns a second spade, win and cash HA next. If hearts are not 3-3, you will cash out the winners in spades and diamonds. If the same hand has four hearts and four clubs, he will be squeezed at the finish. Or, clubs may be 3-3. b) If west puts up the king, you will claim the rest.
Discussion: The beauty of the play is that it removes the guess. Rajaraman, a very keen enthusiast of the game and an expert on play and defence, demonstrated after the event was over, this brilliant and strange line of play, to the declarers.
See how the suggested play works for the following east hands:
a) S x-x-x H K-T-8-x D x-x-x C J-x-x
b) S x-x-x H K-8-x D x-x-x C J-T-9-x
c) S x-x H K-T-8-x D x-x-x C J-T-9-x
Actually, all bridge players are familiar with Q-J-x Vs A-x-x-x and everyone knows that the correct play is to lead twice to dummy’s honours. Q-J-x-x Vs A-x-x is very similar ... but the play eluded all of them.