This exciting deal from the Friday 22 January game posed challenges in the bidding, the play, and the defense.
J 9 8 7|
K Q T 9 7
7 3 2
A K Q J 9 8 6
A J 4
A Q 6 5|
Q T 9 8 2
K T 4 3|
A J 6 3
K 6 5 3
1) Should South open?
This is a matter of style. My preference is to open
2) How many diamonds should West bid?
If South passes, West has a hard hand to describe: eight solid tricks if diamonds are trump. With too many high cards to preempt, opening
If South opens
One way or another, West is almost surely going to be declarer in
3) What is North's opening lead?
Did you automatically lead your singleton club? If South opened
If South did not open
4) The rest of the play and defense
Declarer's plan is simple: draw trumps, then take the club finesse. There is one thing that can spoil this plan for him -- North switching to a spade after cashing his heart winners. This makes declarer use his only sure entry to the dummy before he is ready. The best declarer can do now is to pull two rounds of trump with the ace and ten and then try the club finesse with one trump still out. As the cards lie, perfect defense beats
South has one key play to make too: not wasting his king of clubs! With the Q-T-9-8 visible in dummy, it should be obvious to south that he'll never win a club trick; the best he can do is hang onto his king to block the suit. "Cover an honour with an honour" is a good rule of thumb, but the reason to cover is to set up intermediate cards in the suit. If your side doesn't have any intermediates to set up, don't help your opponent. When this hand was played at the club, three Wests were allowed to take all 13 tricks -- which can only happen if North leads a club and South wastes his king.
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