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Opening lead: C 9

Bidding comment: 4H by South may be a slight overbid but in IMPs one tends to be aggressive in bidding close games.

Analysis: The lead appears to be from C 9-x. That would mean you have to play clubs twice through east who has J-10-x-x. You also need to ruff a spade in dummy, tackle trumps, as well as retain trump control. You seem to have quite a handful. Is there a solution or is the problem insurmountable? Before you read on, plan the play.

Solution: Win the club in dummy. Enter hand by S K!, and play a heart to the queen. Let us say east wins with the king, and plays a diamond to his partner's ace. Suppose a second diamond is played, ruff the continuation, cross to S A, play a club and win with the king when RHO splits his honours with the ten. Let us say that when you cash H A both opponents follow small. Ruff a spade and play one more club and finesse the eight and claim.

The complete hands are:

Discussion: There were many interesting points in the play:

  • Declarer played a trump to dummy's queen to provide for the king in the west hand, K-x, K-x-x, or even K-x-x-x.
  • If east plays a second trump on winning the king, declarer should go with the ace, cross to the spade ace, play a club to enter hand, ruff a spade, take the club finesse, and claim.
  • If declarer cashes the ace of trump and leads another to the queen, he loses trump control. East can play a third trump if he has started with three trumps, thereby preventing the spade ruff in dummy.
  • If east on winning the H K gives west a club ruff, declarer should hope west has originally started with three trumps, J-x-x, and has lost his natural trump trick.
  • The suggested line of play gains whenever trumps are 3-2 and loses if west has J-9-x-x or east has K-J-9-x.
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