Today’s deal is from a match-point tournament. With three deals to go, you estimate that if nothing untoward happens from here on, you will be the winner. You are east and in the hot seat defending the 3N contract below:

Contract: 3N by south. West leads the H2, fourth best.

Play: Declarer puts up the ace, plays a club to her ace, and a club to dummy’s king. Partner follows to both the clubs. Declarer exits in a third club from dummy. What are your thoughts and what do you discard?

Analysis: Declarer certainly has the HK for her 3N bid. She appears to have two spade tricks at least, two heart tricks, one diamond trick, and five club tricks for a minimum of ten tricks.

What is declarer’s hand? If declarer has A-Q-x-x-x in spades, HK, and the CA, she cannot have the Q-J of diamonds. That would add up to 16 points and she would have opened 1C, for they are playing the Precision system.

With S A-Q-x-x-x H K-x D Q-x-x-x C A-x, don’t you think she should have cashed the SK on winning the HA, before tackling clubs, so as to settle for eleven tricks?

Solution: So, declarer’s hand in all likelihood, will be S A-x-x-x-x H K-x D Q-J-x-x C A-x. You back your analysis and discard a spade!

Play continues: Declarer pitches a spade too. Partner wins the third club and clears the hearts. Declarer goes into the tank and finally plays the DQ from her hand and decides to run it. You win and cash out your hearts to defeat the contract. An ‘absolute top’ and you go on to win, as the last two deals turn out to be ‘flat’.

The complete hands are:

Do you fault the declarer for taking the diamond finesse? Please don’t. As it is a match-point event, she was trying to make twelve tricks. May be that she did not want to settle for an ‘average’. She might have also thought that if the finesse works and everyone takes it, she would get a bottom,for not playing with the ‘field’.

In most tables, east parted with a heart, on the third club, fearing it would be stupid to discard a spade. When declarer lost the diamond finesse, the defence could only take four tricks.

Discussion: When declarer does not do what seems to be an obvious thing, you should be quick to pounce on that, for an inference. Here, declarer did not unblock the SK and you could easily infer that she did not have the A-Q in spades. This helped you to discard a spade. You gave yourself a chance to have a go at the contract, though dummy was too powerful. Logically reasoned, dont you think?

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