Hand of the Week, Vol. 4 No. 4

This hand from the Sunday 16 March club game in Idaho Falls is a reminder to play routine card combinations carefully.

Dealer West
NS vul
S A K Q 9 8 4
H A J 7 6 5
D T 2
D K Q 8 5 3
C K T 9 7 3 2
[table marker] S 7 5 3 2
H K Q 9 3
D 9 6 4
C 8 5
S 6
H T 8 4 2
D A J 7
C A Q J 6 4


North should look hard for a slam in hearts, but finding that both the HK and the HQ are missing, the bidding should stop short of slam. (The diagrammed auction, 3S and 4C cuebids and 4NT RKC, is one of many possibilities.) Twelve tricks will be easy if hearts are 2-2, and eleven should always be available.

Either of two ways of playing the hearts will guarantee never losing more than 2 tricks even on a 4-0 heart break, and allow you to make 12 tricks as often as possible (on 10 of the 16 possible heart breaks.) Either win the HA, then lead through whomever shows out, or lead small from South, intending to insert the HJ unless West shows out. Leading the ten can never help you, and sometimes it costs a trick -- as it did on the actual layout. I am sorry to report that on the 16th, only one of the four declarers scored eleven tricks.

If West interrupts your auction with a two-suited bid, this doesn't change the final contract, but might serve as a warning to you that you need to be prepared to handle a bad trump break.

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This page last updated 28.03.14
©2014 Gordon Bower