1. IMPs

Dlr:
North
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K 6
A 8 4 3 2
Q 4 3
♣ A K Q
South
♠ A 10 9 8 4 3 2
5
A J 10
♣ J 2
 WEst North East South 1♥ Pass 1♠ Pass 2NT Pass 6♠(!) All Pass

West leads the♣10. Plan the play and try to be specific.

Dlr:
North
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K 6
A 8 4 3 2
Q 4 3
♣ A K Q
West
♠ Q J 7 5
K 10
7 6 5
♣ 10 9 7 6
East
♠ —
Q J 9 7 6
K 9 8 2
♣ 8 5 4 3
South
♠ A 10 9 8 4 3 2
5
A J 10
♣ J 2

There are three ways to play spades with this combination: (1) Cash the king‑ace and hope for 2–2 spades; (2) cash the king, and if an honor drops from West, finesse on the way back (restricted choice), which is better than playing for West to have queen-jack doubleton; (3) make a safety play to guard against 4–0 spades in either hand, i.e., run the 10 if West follows low. If it loses, there are only two spades outstanding so the most you can lose is one spade trick, and if West started with Q–J–x–x, you have avoided two spade losers. If East has Q–J–x–x, West will show out on the first spade so you can rise with the king and lead a spade from dummy. East, with only Q–J–x remaining, can only take one trick.

So how should you play spades? You shouldn’t! Not yet anyway. In order to know whether or not you have to make a safety play in spades, you must first determine how many spades you can afford to lose. The way to do that is to take a diamond finesse at trick two. If the finesse wins, make a safety play by running the 10 if West follows low. If the diamond finesse loses, lead a spade to the king. If West plays an honor on the first round, use “restricted choice” and finesse on the way back. Otherwise, hope spades are 2–2.

2. Matchpoints

Dlr:
South
Vul:
Both
North
♠ A K 2
J 10 9
A 10 6
♣ A J 4 3
South
♠ Q J 10 9 4 3
A K Q
9 4 3
♣ 7
 WEst North East South 1♠ Pass 2♣ Pass 2♠ Pass 3♠(1) Pass 4♥ Pass 6♠(!) All Pass

1. Forcing

West leads the . You didn’t bid 6♠, but you have to play it. Any ideas?

Dlr:
East
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ A K 2
J 10 9
A 10 6
♣ A J 4 3
West
♠ 8 7
7 6 2
Q J 8 5 2
♣ 9 8 6
East
♠ 6 5
8 5 4 3
K 7
♣ K Q 10 5 2
South
♠ Q J 10 9 4 3
A K Q
9 4 3
♣ 7

You have chances, but they are slim. Maybe East has the singleton K. Maybe the ♣K Q is doubleton or tripleton. Maybe East has K x or West has Q J doubleton and can be thrown in after the clubs are stripped and spades are 2–2. Listen,
something is better than nothing. Go for it.

Your first two plays must be the A followed by the ♣A and a club ruff high. Enter dummy with a spade and ruff another club high. If the
♣K Q have appeared, draw trumps ending in dummy and pitch a diamond on the ♣J. If the ♣K Q have not made an appearance, reenter dummy with a spade and ruff another club, stripping that suit. Now if spades are 2–2 and the stars are in alignment, when you exit a diamond, either East will have a doubleton king or West will have queen-jack doubleton, and the ensuing ruff‑sluff will actually make your partner’s bidding look good.

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