Black Breaks


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 12/01/2017
Level: Intermediate

This deal was (mis)played in the 2017 Team Trials by a former world champion. Try your luck with his South cards:

♠ AK86  
♥ J52  
♦ --  
♣ AKJ1052
 

At unfavorable vulnerability, he opened the bidding 1♠ in second seat. LHO overcalled 1♠ and partner made a negative double (promising both majors). RHO made a constructive diamond raise and opener jumped to 4♠. Everyone passed and the ♠A was led:

♠ Q1072
♥ Q764
♦ K102
♣ 43
 
♠ AK86
♥ J52
♦ --
♣ AKJ1052

The ♠A was led, ruffed by declarer. He played the ♠AK (all following) and then a spade to the queen (RHO throwing a diamond). Now what?

A club was led to the jack and the finesse won. If you try the ♠A next, you are down. Here is the Real deal:

 

 

 

 

Vul:North-South
Dir: East
♠ Q1072
♥ Q764
♦ K102
♣ 43
 
♠ 543
♥ K1098
♦ AQ985
♣ 8
  ♠ J9
♥ A3
♦ J7643
♣ Q976
  ♠ AK86
♥ J52
♦ --
♣ AKJ1052
 

After the ♠A ruffed, declarer drew trumps. When a club to the jack held and the ♠A revealed the 4-1 break, there was no recovery. Remember that declarer ruffed at trick one, so he was out of trumps.

The winning solution was unusual. After the ♠J won, there was a 100% way to make the contract (assuming LHO didn't sneakily duck the offside ♠Q). Declarer is left in this position:

 

 

 

 

 

Vul:North-South
Dir: East
♠ 10
♥ Q764
♦ K10
♣ 4
 
♠ --
♥ K1098
♦ Q985
♣
  ♠ --
♥ A3
♦ J76
♣ Q97
  ♠ --
♥ J52
♦ --
♣ AK1052
 

Declarer wants to take another club finesse, but is stuck in hand. Laying down the ♠A (as we've seen) fails if clubs are 4-1. Leading hearts could lead to the loss of 4 hearts tricks, but not if done properly.  Leading a low heart to the queen and East's ace costs the loss of 4 heart tricks (East wins the ace and returns a heart). The sure way not to lose 4 heart tricks is, in the diagrammed position, to play a low heart from both hands (the ♠J also will do, but it isn't as obvious).  Whatever the opponents do (even if they can take 3 heart tricks), they then have to give you access to a repeat club finesse and 10 tricks. On the actual layout, you'd end up with 11.