Andre Asbury

An Interesting Possible Endplay

This hand had a rather uniquely interesting ending, an ending which would have been more interesting had we been playing matchpoints. Against 3NT (after 1D-1S-1NT-3NT), east led his 4th best heart and declarer’s 10 won the trick. Clearly he has 11 top tricks when spades and clubs both split evenly. So, what was so interesting about this hand?

Dealer: W

Vul: NS

West East
743 J62
84 KJ732
AQ864 K53
863 J5

After taking the opening lead followed by 4 spades and 5 clubs, declarer, led the diamond T off dummy with this 3 card ending. Here is another reason I like matchpoints a lot more than imps. West has to be on his toes here at the end and north has to judge his opponents to decide whether he should cash his 11th trick or try to endplay east for a 12th trick. At imps, one can get lazy and quit counting once he sees declarer has 10 tricks coming because an overtrick isn’t a big deal, but that overtrick in matchpoints is worth a lot, especially since this seems to be a very normal contract with a very normal opening lead. Anyway, to an unalert west or a west who is too conditioned to play second hand low, he may play low on the diamond. This forces east to win and lead from his heart king again. It isn’t entirely clear to west that the heart honors lie the way they do but it should be clear to anyone who has made any effort to count the hand that north and east both have 2 hearts and 1 diamond remaining. Therefore, going up with the ace must be right, for the Q8 will both be good.



West East

Switch the diamond A and K and try thinking about the hand again. East can definitely be endplayed unless he gets rid of the diamond ace earlier. Would you have the courage to discard the diamond ace on the run of the clubs? From the bidding partner must have the K or else north would have opened 1NT. You get a full count on the hand pretty early and realize that north is 3-3-4-3 and may have the Q or J of diamonds but not both. So, on the last black suit winner, if declarer comes down to 1 diamond, you can discard your A but if he comes down to 1 heart and 2 diamonds, you need to discard a heart. If you pitch your ace of diamonds in the latter situation, declarer could lead toward his presumed Q for a 12th trick.


EmoryMay 13th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Do you think that North would have made that play in matchpoints? Giving the opponents the chance to take three tricks when you are cold for eleven doesn’t seem very wise. You are probably getting a good board for making five. While a heart seems the standard lead, it may not happen at every table.

Andre AsburyMay 13th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I think very very few declarers would try such a play, for making 5 rates to be average or slightly above. I was just putting the idea out there as an interesting idea. It works when LHO has the ace or RHO is napping so it’s really not too much of a gamble.

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