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Georgio the great

Here is a lovely deal based on a theme originated by the late and great Georgio Belladonna of the Italian Blue Team, who found the solution at the table. How would you declare 4  on the king of diamonds opening lead to your bare ace, West having opened a 12-14 1 NT?

West Deals
None Vul
8 3
A Q 7 6
9 7 5 4 2
Q 7
K 7
9 5 3
K Q J 10
A 9 4 3
W   E
K J 10 8 4
8 6 3
K 10 8 5
A Q J 10 9 6 5 2
J 6 2
West North East South
1 N Pass 2 1 4 
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Simple weakness take-out, not a transfer.

Assuming a spade loser — which seems very likely given West’s 1 NT opener — you have nine tricks: seven spades and two aces. The heart finesse (low to the queen) is possible but very risky (East bid hearts). What about trying to ruff the third club in dummy?

One idea is to lead a club to the queen. However, West would surely have led the ace of clubs from ace-king, so East is bound to beat the queen and switch to a (low) trump to cut down the club ruff. You now know for sure that West has  Kx for his 1 NT opener, dooming the finesse; you may as well rise with the ace.

If you then lead a second club, West will win, cash the king of spades, then cash a third club. Down one. How about taking the heart finesse? With West having turned up with the king of spades, the king-queen of diamonds and (not certainly but very likely) a top club, there is no room for him to hold the king of hearts. Back to the drawing board.

The single most likely layout is West holding  Kx, East holding the king of hearts and split club honours. A club to the queen does not work (as we’ve seen above) but there is a winning line that revolves around clubs. Cross to the ace of hearts and lead a low club towards the jack (key play). 

East cannot rise with the king of clubs or you have a second club trick by force. So East will play low and West will beat your jack with the ace. West cannot profitably lead spades from his side or he will lose his natural trump trick (that’s the crucial point). Say West switches to a heart.

You ruff the heart and lead to the queen of clubs. East wins the ace and will doubtless switch to his spade. You rise with the ace and now ruff your third club (this is the crucial extra trick). Just the king of spades is lost from here so that’s ten tricks and game made.

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