BY ANDREW KAMBITES
This hand occurred in the first night of the Swiss Pairs. Whether or not South chooses to bid diamonds East/West should end up in 4♠. Auctions 1 and 2 show two possible routes to this contract.
Auction 1 is worthy of examination. West is strong enough to bid his suits naturally, starting with the longest. 2♠ is a responder’s reverse. Some pairs play it as game forcing, others as forcing for one round. Perhaps West is tempted to jump to 3NT because of his diamond stopper but a single diamond stopper might not be enough if he has to lose the lead, hence 3♦ (Fourth suit forcing) keeps all options open. West’s 3♠ shows a fifth spade, and therefore a sixth club.
North leads the ♦7. Declarer wins with dummy’s ♦A . The correct play is not immediately obvious but it looks natural to duck a trump. This enables declarer to subsequently cash the ♠A, leaving just one, winning, trump out. Declarer ruffs the diamond continuation and cashes the ♠A, noting with pleasure the 3-2 break. The contract is now safe, but at pairs overtricks are valuable. It looks right to cash the ♣A K and ruff a club, which will give 11 tricks if clubs are also breaking 3-2. However the 4-1 club break holds declarer to 10 tricks. There is a better way. The principle is to identify your main chance (in this case clubs 3-2) and then see if you can find an additional chance without endangering your main chance. Here the additional chance is breaking hearts 4-3 provided South cannot overruff the ♠J. The remaining cards are as shown below.
Declarer should try hearts first. Cash ♥A K Q, (discarding clubs) and ruff a heart. Now the ♥5 is a winner. Continue by cashing the ♣A K and ruffing a club. Declarer can discard his last club on the ♥5, losing just two trump tricks.
Note that if the hearts had broken badly, rather than ruffing a heart declarer could switch his attention to clubs, cashing the ♣A K and ruffing a club, making 11 tricks if they break 3-2. You have two possible routes for your eleventh trick. You can combine the chances but only if you attack hearts first.