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A valiant effort

Investment analyst and friend Jonathan Davis, East, made a valiant effort to defeat 5  after his partner had made an unfortunate (and, in truth, unwise) opening lead.

South Deals
None Vul
8 2
Q 9 8 6 4 2
K 10 6 3
K Q J 10 9 7 6 5
A 7 5 2
W   E
Q 9 2
K J 10 7 5
Q J 9 8 4
A K J 10 8 7 6 5
A 4 3
A 3
West North East South
      2 1
4  Pass Pass 4 
5  Pass Pass 5 
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. 23+ points or a hand worth 23 points.

The king of hearts lead would have beaten 5  , whether East ruffed or not. Even the singleton spade lead would have left declarer with three unavoidable red-suit losers. West’s actual choice of the ace of clubs may not have done any immediate damage, as there was no entry to dummy’s promoted king of clubs. But watch.

Declarer ruffs the club and plays out the ace-king of spades (keeping all dummy’s clubs). Say East plays low twice to leave the master queen. Declarer (perhaps cashing the ace of hearts first, to rid East of a singleton heart and a safe exit) then exits with a third spade to East.

East does best to lead the queen of clubs but declarer throws a heart and makes the key play of ducking in dummy. (Don’t you love that declarer tries valiantly to get the defence to lead a club to resuscitate dummy’s stranded king, then spurns a chance to win it?)

East is now well and truly scuppered. With a second club running round to dummy’s king-ten, East tries a diamond. Declarer runs that round to the queen, cashes the king of clubs throwing his remaining small heart and claims.

Go back to the beginning. Davis did not woodenly throw low spades under declarer’s ace-king. He chucked the nine, then queen, to leave him with the two.

Sacrificing his natural trump trick in the hope of gaining two tricks in return was a brilliant attempt to avoid the endplay. Brilliant but, on declarer’s fine rejoinder, doomed. Declarer drew East’s third spade, then played ace and a second diamond, ducking the trick to East’s ten.

East tried to get off play with the king of diamonds but declarer discarded a heart (key play). East now had to lead a losing minor, enabling declarer to win in dummy and shed his remaining heart loser. Eleven tricks and game made.

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