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Today's deal is from a match-point event that had fifteen tables. Most NS pairs elected to play in 3NT, despite a 6-2 fit in hearts. Though there was an opportunity to defeat the 3NT contract by means of a brilliant stroke, it was missed and the declarers collected nine tricks with ease. See whether you would have defeated the contract and earned the rare appreciation of your partner!
Contract: 3NT by south. You lead the D9, none or two above. Dummy plays low, partner follows with the two, and declarer wins with the jack. Declarer plays the H10 from his hand and allows your queen to win. How do you continue?
Bidding comment: North's 2D was a transfer to hearts and his subsequent raise indicated a six-card suit and about 8-9 hcp.
Analysis: South seems to have a minimum and only a doubleton for his partner. With 14 points in his hand, west should quickly realise that his partner cannot have more than three points. If east has the HJ, he can only have SQ as the other picture card.
How the defence went: Accordingly, most defenders in the west seat shifted to the SK, playing partner for Q-10-x-x-x. Declarer won with the ace, ducked the second heart when west followed with the king. West cashed the SJ and played a third spade to partner's queen ...but declarer claimed nine tricks as he had A-10-9-x in spades.
A few west defenders shifted to a club and it went into declarer's A-K-J-x. Declarer cleared the hearts and claimed ten tricks now for an absolute top. The complete hands were:
Winning defence: West should exit in DK on winning the heart queen! Declarer will be completely taken by surprise by this deliberate sacrifice. The unexpected defence has shut out the dummy. Twist and turn as he might, there is no way declarer can come to nine tricks. As the cards are, he might end up with only seven tricks.
Discussion: This entry-destroying play is known as “Merrimac Coup”. The coup derives its name from the name of the ship ‘Merrimac’ which was destroyed deliberately for preventing entry of the enemy ship to a port in a battle in South America.
Suppose east has the CK and contributes it when west shifts to a club. No problem. Declarer wins and as before ducks a second heart. West is endplayed in three suits for declarer's hand will be S A-Q-x-x H J-10 D Q-J-x C A-J-x-x.
North should strictly pass 2H for his partner did not super accept but merely went throught the transfer. South should 3H and not press too hard, as he should remember it is a match point event and is better to go plus, since he is minimum. Did you notice 4H has no chance?
Keywords: bridge game