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Establishing tricks through force

This deal sees declarer able to use two of the three basic methods of card promotion (Force, Length and Position) to make his 1NT contract. He tried the third - oops

South Deals
N-S Vul
♠ J 9 7 6
J 2
Q 5 4 2
♣ A 6 3
♠ K 5
Q 9 7 5
K 9 6
♣ Q 10 7 2
West   East
♠ Q 10 8 3
10 4
A 10 8 7
♣ J 9 5
  ♠ A 4 2
A K 8 6 3
J 3
♣ K 8 4

West North East South
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 1 N1
Pass Pass Pass
  1. 15-16 balanced.

What happened

Winning ♣2 (to East’s ♣J) with ♣K, declarer led J. He was (misguidedly) trying to force out AK, and to promote Q. But there were no Force Winners on this deal; Q and J was an insufficient sequence between the two hands - 10 and 9 were needed too.

West won J with K and continued with ♣Q. Winning ♣A, declarer next ran J, another misguided effort (you cannot promote a card if you lead it). West won Q, cashed ♣107, and switched to 9. Declarer covered with dummy’s Q (it didn’t matter), and East took A then 108. Declarer had set up no extra tricks and, losing a further trick at the end, garnered just his five top tricks, ♠A, AK, and ♣AK. Down two

What should have happened

You as declarer count five top tricks (♠A, AK, and ♣AK). Focussing on your five-card heart suit, you have the possibility of length winners. First, though, you must try to promote J via a finesse. This means, crucially, leading from the opposite hand to the card, not actually leading it.

Win Trick One with ♣K, so that you can lead towards J. 3 lead (key play) stymies West. If he rises with Q, you play dummy’s 2 and J is promoted. Say he plays low: you play J and your 50-50 finesse succeeds (with West holding Q). Now try for length winners, by returning to your AK.

East discards on the third heart, but nil desperandum. Give West the fourth heart with his Q, in order to promote 8 as a length winner. Win his ♣Q return with dummy’s ♣A, cross to hand with ♠A, and triumphantly cash 8. Seven tricks and 1NT made.

If you remember just one thing....

Don’t panic when left in 1NT. Look for sequences of three or more touching high cards, and/or a fivecard suit.


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