Bridgerama play problems. Bidding is not everything

Le Bridgeur

Exercises adapted from Bridgerama, a supplement of the prestigious French magazine Le Bridgeur (June 2019).

Problem #1

Contract: 5♦️. No one is void in trumps.
Opening lead: Spade to the King, Ace of Spade and another spade back.

You ruff and play:

a) Ace and King of Clubs.
b) Queen of Hearts to the Ace, then Jack of Hearts and discard a Club.
c) Trump, then a club to the 10.

Problem #1. Solution

Play Ace and King of Clubs (a).

Your best shot is to hope that the King of Hearts is with East and to finesse the King. But it doesn’t cost anything to pull the Ace and King of Clubs before attempting this maneuver. When the Queen of Clubs falls, you have no more worries. Nice combination of chances.

Problem #2

Contract: 1NT after a 1♠ overcall by East.
Opening lead: 10 of Spades.

You win the second round of Spades and play:

a) Club to the 10.
b) Club to the Ace.
c) Heart to the Ace and a Diamond to the 10.

Problem #2. Solution

Go to dummy and play a diamond to the 10 (c).

You have six sure tricks. Playing on the clubs would give (except for a miracle) the possibility to the defenders to take seven tricks before you (four spades, two diamonds and one club). Trying to finesse the Jack of Diamonds by starting twice from dummy is a much better line of play, that allows you to win in 50% of cases.

Problem #3

Contract: 6♠️
Opening lead: 2 of Spades.

East shows out. What is your plan?

a) Give a diamond, and then cross-ruff.
b) Play a small heart to the Queen.
c) Set up the Clubs.

Problem #3. Solution

Play heart to the Queen (b).

Even if the King of Clubs is third, you will not be able to reach the suit because, given how trumps split, you only have two entries to dummy. The best chance is to attempt a cross-ruff (five spades in hand, four in dummy and three Aces). To avoid a trump return, play Heart to the Queen. If East has the King of Hearts, you win: you will be able to discard dummy’s Diamond on the Ace of Hearts.