20th July 2016

Pairs Love All Dealer South

S 53
H A3
C A98764

H KQ52
D 104

A deal from the Wednesday duplicate at Bramhall earlier this month.

1H Pass
2C Pass
6NT Pass

After a short, unsophisticated auction you arrive in six notrump.  West leads a diamond.  How do you play?  Would you play differently at teams?

Solution and analysis

You have two spade tricks, three heart tricks and two diamond tricks, therefore you need to play the clubs for five tricks.
The safety play is to lead a club from dummy and, if East follows, to finesse the jack in case East has Q1052.  If East shows out, you win with the king and play the jack to force West to cover with the queen and then only lose to the ten.  This safety play is clear at teams.  At pairs it is probably correct also.  Playing off the ace and king is a marginally better chance to make six club tricks than finessing the jack, but it is likely that several pairs will not bid six notrump, therefore ensuring the contract takes priority. 

Note that if you had more entries to dummy, playing to the king would work if East had all the clubs as you could lead towards the jack next time, and then unblock the jack and cross to dummy to run the clubs, but here East can foil that by playing a diamond back after winning the queen on the second club lead and you cannot unblock the club suit.

In practice East held Qxx of clubs so finessing the jack scored an overtrick and a complete top.  Only two of the six pairs played in six notrump and one pair didn't reach slam.