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Leela Iyengar and Madhukar are a formidable combination in the Chennai Bridge circuit. They play Standard American with special treatments. Whereas the others find themselves in silly contract quite often, these two, almost always reach the correct contract by their excellent bidding technique. The deal below came up in the Swiss League of the South Zone Bridge Championship held recently in Bengaluru. Watch Madhukar in action in a tricky 3NT contract that he played brilliantly.
Contract: 3NT by south. West leads the HQ, east following with the two and you win with the king. Plan the play.
Bidding explanation: Leela's cue-bid showed a five-card support for clubs and atleast invitational values. When Madhukar indicated a stopper in hearts by bidding 2NT, Leela was only too happy to raise it to 3NT.
How the play went: Declarer proceeded to cash his club winners next, both defenders following to the suit twice. East echoed in diamonds by playing the seven and the two to show interest in the suit followed by a low spade. West, in the meanwhile, discarded a diamond, a spade, and a heart. Madhukar discarded a diamond on the last club, cashed the DA, and put west in with a heart by playing the nine from his hand. West won and cashed his hearts but had to lead a spade from his king, enabling declarer to make two tricks in the suit. The full deal is:
Discussion: If west discards two hearts and a spade on the run of clubs, Madhukar would simply lead a spade to his ace and play a spade to the queen to set up the ninth trick, without cashing the diamond ace.
If west bares his spade king, Madhukar would fell it.
Declarer had a clue to west's heart length because he argued that east would have raised his partner with four trumps.
It was not good defence by east to peter in diamonds, for it enabled declarer to play the deal double-dummy. Play out the deal with a deck of cards. You will appreciate the play better.