28th October 2015

Pairs Love All

H J10753
D 62
C J54

S 1064
H AK8642
D -
C A762

Play deals featured in textbooks are carefully constructed to show a particular technique.
Real life deals are rarely so neat, they usually require multiple different techniques and/or a choice of technical plays, this is what makes bridge such a fascinating game.
However, occasionally a deal occurs at the table  that could be featured in a textbook.  This one  came up in a duplicate at Cheadle Hulme in September 2010.
You reach a contract of four hearts.  The opening lead is the ace of diamonds.  How do you play? (Trumps break 1-1).


This is a good contract, a dummy reversal yields nine tricks with many extra chances for the tenth trick, an elimination play will maximise your chances.

Solution and analysis

This deal is a text book example of elimination technique.
Five trumps in dummy plus two diamond ruffs in hand and the black suit aces gives you nine tricks. 
The obvious chances for the tenth are to find the KQ of spades with West or the clubs breaking 3-3 or the KQ of clubs doubleton, overall about a 50% chance.
However the following line of play improves the chances considerably.
Trump the opening lead, draw trumps, cross to dummy with a second trump and ruff the last diamond in hand.  Then play ace and another club.
If the clubs split 4-2 and East has Kx or Qx, then she will either have to lead spades guaranteeing two spade tricks or concede a ruff and discard.
If West has Kx or Qx of clubs, then she will play a spade, which will concede two tricks unless East has both the missing honours.
If the clubs split 4-2 with the four card suit having the high honours, then the defence will be able to play four rounds of clubs forcing a ruff in dummy.
Declarer can then cross back to hand with a trump and play a spade finessing the jack, to make the contract if either defender holds KQ of spades.

This line of play will make the contract about 85% of the time.