Hand of the Week
West leads the ♦Q to dummy’s ace. Can you make certain of 12 tricks?
The abundance of trumps and an the ♠A Q 9 in the South hand should be pointers towards considering an elimination play as a possibility for success. Suppose the full deal is:
The simple approach is to draw one round of trumps with the ace, then to cash the ♣A and ♣K before discarding your remaining low club on the ♦K. The idea is that if the clubs stand up, you will ruff a club high, cross back to dummy with a trump to the king so that you can ruff dummy’s last club. Then, after crossing back to dummy with the ♥Q, you will lead a spade intending to cover East’s card. If clubs were no worse than 4-2, this would guarantee your contract.
Alas, if you adopt this approach on the above layout, West ruffs the second club and you must lose at least one more trick.
Still, there is a way of overcoming this problem and achieving the desired elimination. It is quite a neat idea and worth remembering. After drawing trumps with the ace, jack and king, discard a low club on the king of diamonds and cash dummy’s top two clubs. The next step is to lead a low spade with the intention of covering East’s card as cheaply as possible.
When East follows with a low spade, West takes your 9 with the jack and finds himself with the choice of leading a spade into your A-Q or giving you a ruff-and-discard by exiting with a diamond. Either gives you a 12th trick.
There are two other things to consider. The first is, “What would happen if East played the ♠10 on the first round of the suit?” In that case, West would take your ♠Q with the king.
Then, if West returns a spade, your ace and 9 will take two tricks while any other return gives you a ruff-and-discard. So, whether West returns a spade or a diamond, you make 12 tricks.
The second is, “What would happen if West had more than two clubs and the ♣Q had not appeared?” Well, as he must exit with a low club or the queen, you have all cases covered.
If the ♣Q is played, you play low from dummy and ruff it in hand. Then you cross to dummy with the queen of trumps to discard the queen of spades on the established ♣J.
If a low club appears from West, you call for dummy’s jack. Should this be covered by ♣Q, the payback is that the clubs split 3-3, so, once you ruff it, dummy’s ♣3 is the 12th trick. Of course, the other possibility is that West might lead a sneaky low card away from the ♣Q. In that case the ♣J would hold the trick, providing a discard for any troublesome spade.