Utilising length

Plan the play in 5D as West, after the defenders cash two rounds of spades then switch to clubs:

WEST          EAST
S 96          S 87
H 52          H AK876
D AKQJ4       D 987
C K762        C AQ5   

Declarer has ten top tricks and if clubs are 3-3, the last club will come good for an eleventh trick. When the opponents have six cards in a suit, however, the most likely break is 4-2.

A better plan is to set up dummy’s hearts. The A-Q of clubs may be needed in dummy later as entries so win the club lead with the king.

It takes three rounds to draw trumps after which you cash the A-K of hearts. Everyone follows so now the contract is unbeatable. Ruff a heart, back to dummy with a club, ruff another heart (if there is still one out), back to dummy with the other club, and the last heart in dummy is a winner.

The next hand has a twist. Cover the East-West cards and plan your play in 7S after West leads a diamond.

Dealer North, EW vul.

         S AT96
         H A98643
         D A
         C 42
WEST               EAST
S 3                S —
H J                H QT7
D QJT942           D K87653
C KJT97            C Q863
         S KQJ87542
         H K52
         D —
         C A5

      1H    Pass  1S
2NT*  3S    5D    6C*
Pass  7S  All pass

West’s overcall was the Unusual 2NT, showing at least 5-5 in the minors but suggesting a weakish hand. With massive shape, East bid 5D, which would only have been one light – an excellent sacrifice against North-South’s spade contract.

With the spade fit found, South’s bid of 6C was a control bid or cue bid, showing first round control in clubs and showing interest in bigger things. As the bidding was already at the 6-level, North with the other three aces could hardly do less than bump things up by one – to grand slam!

West leads the DQ, taken by the DA. What should South discard?

In clubs, there is one loser. In hearts, there will be a loser if the opposition hearts are divided unevenly, but no loser if their hearts are split 2-2 (because then all their hearts will fall under the ace and king).

Even though the club is the sure loser whereas the heart is only a possible one, it is the heart that should be discarded from hand. After discarding the H2 on the DA, declarer draws the outstanding trump then plays the HK and a heart to the ace.

Given the actual 3-1 break in hearts, it was just as well that South had discarded a small heart earlier. Now the third round of hearts could be ruffed. That established the hearts as winners so there was no difficulty in discarding the club loser – whereas the contract would have been one light if South had over-hastily discarded the club at trick one.