Today’s deal is from a weekly match-point event held recently in Chennai. Defenders were rendered powerless to stop the over trick.

Contract: 2H by south. West leads the C2, east follows with the queen. Plan the play.

Bidding comment: North’s 1N bid is known in tournament circles as the ‘good raise to two’ convention. If he has 5-7 points and a three-card support, he would raise to 2H immediately.

Analysis: There seems to be only five losers and so the contract is in no danger. Since it is match points, you should play for the over trick.

Play: Declarer ducked the opening lead and won the club continuation with the ace. He ruffed the third club, played a heart to his ace, and exited in a heart. West won with the king and declarer was happy to find the trumps to be 2-2. West exited in a diamond to the three, queen, and the five. East switched to a low spade to the queen, ace, and the two. West played back a second spade now. Declarer won with the king and ruffed a spade, east following with the ten. The last four cards were:

Declarer played the trumps now and west had to surrender, for he was squeezed in spades and diamonds.

The full deal is :

Discussion: You can say declarer played it double-dummy, right from the very start. Refusing to win the club ace at trick one, was the key play. Spurning the heart finesse was based on west’s take-out double which suggested the king in his hand.

Declarer played very well to isolate the spade menace and squeeze west in the pointed suits in the end. The way declarer played the hand, the play by the defenders, was forced.

If east shifts to a spade at trick two, declarer has a neat counter. He plays the queen from hand which forces west to win. The best continuation for west is to play a second spade. Declarer wins, ruffs a spade, cashes CA, ruffs a club, and ruffs the last spade. As before, he cashes the HA next, and exits in a heart. West is forced to play a diamond, ducked in dummy. East wins and is end-played!

If declarer makes the mistake of winning the first club, and plays trumps as he did, the defence can cash a club and play the third club to stop the over trick.

Draw a slanting line to each trick to understand the play better.

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Keywords: Bridge column