Tough world wide hands

Here are some hands from a past World Wide Bridge Contest, with commentary provided by Eric Kokish. Over 5600 pairs participated.

Board 26. Dealer East, both vul.

          ♠ K4
WEST                EAST
 AJ8652             QT973
 QT                 A532
 AKQ                T72
 75                 9

With nine solid clubs, South is likely to open 5C. If allowed to play there, perhaps doubled, the contract may make by finessing to the HJ and finding the Q-10 of hearts fall.

If East-West play in 5S, it seems there must be a club loser, a trump loser and a heart loser. In practice, over 200 declarers made 11 tricks.

Imagine West is declarer. North will lead a club, won by South. Now if South leads a diamond, declarer wins, cashes the SA, then strips (plays out) all the minor suit cards. After that, a second round of spades is played to throw North on lead. If North leads a heart, that allows declarer’s queen to make. If North leads a diamond, this will be ruffed in dummy while the heart loser is discarded from hand. Either way, 11 tricks eventuate.

To shoot 5S, South needs to switch to a heart at trick two, or lead a second club and have North ruff with the SK (!) to avoid being thrown in later.

Board 8. Dealer West, nil vul.

WEST                EAST
 JT4                AQ9762
 T654               A
 K2                 AT76
 AT63               92

Pass  Pass   1S    3H
3S    Pass   4S  All pass

This is the standard auction recommended by Kokish. South prefers to make a weak jump overcall in hearts rather than a Michaels Cue Bid because the hearts are so good and the diamonds so poor. Over that, West “will not mind raising at the 3-level under duress”.

Kokish also notes that “Souths who overcall 2H without their partners twigging to their proclivity for unsound actions, may do worst of all when North doubles 4S.” How should you play the hand in 4S (whether doubled or not) on the lead of the HK?

You could cross to dummy and lead a spade honour to finesse against North’s SK, drawing trumps for no loser. There is, however, a better line.

After winning the heart lead, play a diamond to the king, a diamond back to the ace, and then lead another diamond, ruffing high so that if North can overruff (as happens), it will at least be with the SK. Declarer’s other diamond can then be ruffed (high), for 11 tricks.

Kokish’s commentary states: “Declarers losing their way and taking only 10 tricks in spades will not be pleased with their score.” That proved to be a slight exaggeration because in practice, only about 42% of declarers in spades made the 11th trick, even in this world event. The rest should keep in mind this tip: the common task to perform before drawing trumps is to ruff in the short hand (the hand with fewer trumps).

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