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Take the west seat in today’s problem from an IMP match and see if you can come up with the right answer.

Contract: 5C.

Defence so far: West led the S2, lowest from odd. Declarer played the king from dummy and east won the ace. East shifted to the D2 which west won with the ace, declarer following with the king.

You are at the crossroads. What do you return?

Analysis: Declarer certainly has an eight-card suit for jumping to 5C. Partner’s diamond shift indicates declarer has a singleton diamond. His distribution rates to be either 1-3-1-8 or 2-2-1-8. If his clubs are solid, there is nothing you can do about. If declarer has a heart loser, it will be discarded on dummy’s winners. While you are wondering whether you have any chance to set the contract, suddenly you see light at the end of the tunnel. There appears to be a glimmer of hope.

Solution: Return a heart; better stilll the HK. Declarer wins the ace in dummy, discards his heart losers on the diamond and spade winners, calls for the CJ from dummy...but puts up the ace. West shows out and he is down one. The full deal is:

In the actual play, west played back a diamond, thinking that a heart shift might cost their side a trick. Declarer won with DQ, pitching a heart from hand. He called for the CJ from dummy and when east played low, put up the ace from hand. When west showed out, he entered dummy by the HA, cashed a spade to pitch yet another heart, and successfully finessed the club to fulfil the contract.

Discussion: There were many interesting points:

Did you notice the difference the heart switch made? You did not give declarer the time to test the clubs. It removed the vital entry to dummy before he got wise of the 3-0 break in trumps!

Having established sufficient winners in dummy for the declarer, it was foolish on the part of west to imagine that a heart shift might cost a trick.

West should have realised that his DA is likely placed in front of the possible K-Q-x-x in dummy. So, he should have led the HK to start with. As you can see, declarer will then be defeated by three tricks.

You may ask ‘Why can’t declarer have 1-1-3-8 distribution?’ Reflect for a moment that declarer has: S x H x D K-x-x C A-K-T-x-x-x-x-x. Don’t you think he can explore a slam if partner has good diamonds and an ace on the side?

At the other table, south tried 3NT instead of 5C. East led a heart from Q-J-x-x. Declarer had no problem whatever and made nine tricks comfortably.

E-mail: ls4bridge@gmail.com

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