BRIDGE Connect with friends and sharpen your grey cells.

Declarer came up with a special technique, a text-book play as it were, to succeed in the 3NT contract below from a match-point event. See if you can duplicate his play.

Contract: 3NT by south. West leads the DJ, denying a higher honour. Plan the play.

Bidding explanation: With 3-3 in the minors, north was absolutely right in opening 1C. South responded 1NT to show a balanced 6-10 count hand and no 4-card major. North correctly rebid 3NT because of his tricks in both the majors.

How the play went: Almost all the declarers won the opening lead and attacked clubs. East held-off twice and won the third club, west discarding a diamond. East switched to a heart now and defeated the contract easily. The full deal is:

How would you have played the hand?

Correct play: The correct play at trick one is to follow with a small card from both the hands!

Let us say west continues with a small diamond. You play small from dummy, east the king, and you win with the ace. As with others, you also attack clubs. Let us say east holds-off twice. Duck a spade next and when the suit breaks 3-3, claim nine tricks.

Discussion: There are many interesting points.

If west continues with the ten, declarer covers with queen and the nine becomes an entry to south's hand after east covers the queen with the king. Work on clubs and collect ten tricks!

If west does not continue a second diamond, the DA is intact in your hand. Win the heart switch, smoke out the club ace, and claim nine tricks.

The suit is frozen, as it is called, after you duck the opening lead, for neither opponent can attack it without presenting you with a trick in the suit. If they don't continue the suit, the entry to the long suit is kept intact.

If west leads a heart to start with, declarer has an easy nine tricks!

Did you notice the small trap when declarer goes after clubs and the opponents hold-off the ace twice? It is important not to play the third club now. If you do so, and west has S Q-10-9 H Q-10 D J-10-8-x-x C A-x-x, he can win and clear the diamonds to defeat you.

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012