Is This Really A Suit Combination?

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/19/2009
Level: All Levels

There is always a new suit combination to learn about in bridge. Here is one that I never have thought about:

As you look at this full deal from the 2009 Spingold semifinals, which suit would you guess is the subject of this article?

Vul: None
Dir: North
?K Q 5
?A Q 8 6 4
?Q 7 6
?6 5
?7 6 3 2
?10 7 3
?A 3 2
?A K 9
  ?A 9 4
?9 5 2
?J 8
?Q J 4 3 2
  ?J 10 8
?K J
?K 10 9 5 4
?10 8 7

My partner opened the North hand 1? and I responded 1NT, semi-forcing. Everyone passed.  A spade was led and I did a quick assessment of my winners (my normal policy in notrump).

I could guess to play on diamonds, maybe divining who had the jack, but it seemed better to try to take 2 spades and 5 hearts.  I played low from dummy on the spade lead to make sure I had an entry to dummy's hearts.

After my ?J was allowed to win the first trick, I played both top hearts from my hand (I didn't overtake because I didn't know hearts were 3-3).

Now I played another spade and hoped for the best.

I expected a club switch, but if that suit split 4-4, I would have no problems. The defense would take only 4 clubs and the 2 aces--I'd make my 1NT contract. When East took his ?A, he played a club as expected. On his low club play, I tried the effect of the ?10, attempting to make it look like I had something to stop the suit. No good. West took her top clubs and played a third one to beat the contract (East took his clubs and then played a diamond for down one).

In retrospect, I misplayed the club suit. I should have played the ?8, not the ?10. Now, West could foil my plan by capturing the 8 with the ace or king. But, I think this West player wouldn't have been able to resist winning cheaply  (maybe "robotically" is the right term) with the 9. Then, I'd be home free with the clubs blocked and would easily have made my contract.

So, now I know for next time how to play a suit of 65 opposite 1087.