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SWISS MATCH

This is the third board of a seven-board Swiss match.

West dealer
North-South vulnerable

NORTH (dummy)
S A 8 7
H K J 10 5
D A J 9
C J 6 4
WEST (you)
S K Q J 10 4
H A 8 6
D 3 2
C K 7 5





You LHO Partner RHO
1 S Double Pass 4 H
Pass Pass Pass

Spade king, ace, deuce, nine.
Heart jack, seven, deuce, ace.
Spade queen, seven, three, six.
Spade jack, eight, five, heart three.
Club three, ?

Surprise!

Were you ready for that? Did you play quickly or slowly? What did you play? And why?

Solution below.

NORTH
S A 8 7
H K J 10 5
D A J 9
C J 6 4
WEST
S K Q J 10 4
H A 8 6
D 3 2
C K 7 5
EAST
S 5 3 2
H 7
D Q 10 8 7 5
C 10 9 8 2
SOUTH
S 9 6
H Q 9 4 3 2
D K 6 4
C A Q 3

No doubt you expected declarer to draw trumps; then, partner would perhaps have given you some useful information. Obviously, declarer has something else in mind. But what?

First, don't panic. If you played quickly to this trick, because you were taken by surprise and didn't want to give away the fact that you had a club honor, that is understandable. However, once you have given away the show, even if all you did was flinch to show that you had a problem, there is no longer any point to playing relatively quickly. In other words, once you are caught out you might as well take your time to solve the technical part of the problem (if there is one). If you do that here, you will defeat the contract.

Can declarer be missing the ace of clubs? Hardly. That would give him at most nine points and a five-card suit. Can declarer be missing the queen of clubs? On the bidding, yes. But not on the play. If he is missing the queen of clubs he must have the queen of diamonds, in which case, no matter what his exact club holding, he would have eliminated the red suits before playing clubs. Therefore, declarer has ace-queen of clubs--so it cannot be wrong to take your king. If you do take it, and exit safely, partner will eventually make a diamond trick.

Note what happens if you fall into South's trap by ducking your club king. Declarer wins with dummy's club jack and draws trumps. From the bidding and early play, he deduces that you started with eight cards in the majors. Going on the practical assumption that East would have taken the king of clubs if he held it, declarer can then ensure the contract by cashing two top diamonds, then playing ace-queen of clubs. You cannot have both the protected king of clubs and a third diamond to lead.

Declarer risked only an obscure chance for an overtrick with his attempted swindle. From the bidding, he was sure that if your partner turned up with the king of clubs, you would have the queen of diamonds.








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