Ten Tricks To Take

This This was board 8 at the Malanda club on Monday 15th December. One EW pair was allowed to play in 3♠ but at all other tables the conract was played by NS, once in 3 and seven times in 4. Two NS pairs made 10 tricks but six managed only 9 tricks.


A 2
J 10 8 6 2
K 10 8
K Q J

K Q 8 7 6
K 3
9 7 2
A 9 6

N

W

E

S

J 5 4 3
5
Q 9 4 2
10 7 5 3

10 9
A Q 9 7 4
A J 5
8 4 2


The distribution of the North and South hands is identical so there is no prospect of a ruff. Declarer can count 1 trick in spades, 4 in hearts, 2 in diamonds and 2 in clubs. That comes to 9. A finesse for the Q appears to offer a chance for a tenth trick but the results suggest that any such attempt was not usually successful. The interesting thing about this hand is that ten tricks are available against any defence without having to guess the diamond position.

An opening diamond lead would give away the tenth trick immediately and a club lead causes no difficulty since the ace has to be knocked out anyway so the only leads which give declarer pause for thought are a heart or a spade. When I played the hand as North, I got a trump lead but a spade was led at all other tables. The play is essentially the same in each case.

h On the lead of the 5 from East I called for dummy's A and tackled the clubs immediately. After winning the ♣A West cashed K and switched to a spade which I won in hand. After clearing the clubs from the N/S hands the situation was:


2
J 10 8
K 10 8


Q 8 7 6

9 7 2


N

W

E

S

J 5 4

Q 9 4
10

10
Q 9 7
A J 5



For declarers receiving a spade opening, the play would lead to a similar position. Win the opening lead and knock out the ♣A. The defence can cash a spade winner but cannot continue the suit without yielding a tenth trick via a ruff so the safest play is a club or a trump. Either way, cash A and clear the clubs leaving this position almost identical to the one shown above:



J 10 8 6
K 10 8


Q 8 7
K
9 7 2


N

W

E

S

J 5 4

Q 9 4
10


Q 9 7 4
A J 5



From the first position, lead a spade and from the second lead a trump. In either case the defender who wins the trick has the unhappy choice of conceding a ruff and discard or leading a diamond into the K 10 8 or A J 5. There is no escape for the defence which is forced to present declarer with the tenth decisive trick.

This hand was a fine example of a classic elimination and throw-in play, the sort of thing you read about in any textbook on card play at bridge. It was particularly instructive in that all the elements of the endplay were visible at trick 1. The play was routine; eliminate the black cards from the North and South hands leaving the defenders on lead at the 7th trick.

The only person who could defeat the contract was the declarer who might have tried something silly like playing diamonds himself or attempting to finesse in trumps.

After an opening spade lead,  a trump finesse would have been nasty. All West has to do after winning K is lead another spade. Declarer could no longer give up the lead at the critical moment to force the defence to play a diamond or concede a ruff and discard.

Textbook plays do occur in club games!