Director’s Report from the Bridge Room in Paestum

BY ANDREW KAMBITES


bridge1

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.

bridge2

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.