Andre Asbury

Endplay for 3NT

This hand is from the the swiss team game yesterday. At my table the opponents (south) played 3D making and at the other table, north played 3NT making, on a club lead from east, but 3NT by south is a rather interesting contract that I really though they would get to at my table.

Dealer: East

Vul: none

West East
9xx AJ8
T8xxx AJx
x xxx
JT8x K9xx
West North East South
1NT Pass
2 X 2 3
Pass 3 Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

1NT was 11-14. This is basically a double-dummy problem since the bidding pin-points almost all of the high cards and marks west with 5 hearts. So, on a low heart lead to the ace and back a heart, how would you play to make 3NT? We surely must duck trick 2 to cut communication to west’s good hearts. So, we have 5 diamonds, 1 club, 1 heart, and 1 spade (after knocking out the ace). Where will the 9th trick come from? Possibly spades and possibly clubs. But you must decide at trick 3 what to do. East is marked with the king of clubs from the bidding so the only way to score a 2nd club trick is to endplay him, and the only way to score a 2nd spade trick is for west to have the jack or east the AJ doubleton. On the hearts, you’ll have to pitch from dummy twice, surely a spade and a club. Cash 3 diamonds ending in hand, then play a spade to the K, ducked (if he takes this, he has to lead back into the spade or club tenaces). Play a diamond back to hand and lead another spade to the 10. After taking his ace he will be endplayed and have to lead a club into dummy’s AQ at trick 11.  Note this also wins when west has the jack of spades.

Would you have made 3NT on the J opening lead? It’s clear the east has the Q so going up with the ace and playing to keep west off lead must be right. This is considerably harder. Surely the first time east gets in with a spade, he will play ace and another heart. Then the defense will inevitably get 2 spades, 2 hearts, and a club. So the best line may be to case the 5 diamonds immediately and carefully watch east’s discards. He can safely discard 1 club but if he discards a second club you can lead a low club off dummy to get his now-blank K. If he discards a heart, you won’t need to hold up on the second heart and can endplay east as above, losing a club instead of a second heart. If he discards a spade you can drop his jack of spades. Of course, this will all look silly if west holds the jack of spades and a simple finesse of the spade 10 was all you needed to do.


Stephen CooperJune 8th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I question the proposed defence. Ater the second Heart is ducked, West’s hand is incommunicado, so he should switch to the Jack of Clubs, NOT persist with a third Heart. Declarer must rise Ace. (He should be able to tell from the size of East’s Heart return who has four and who has three). I don’t see the hand being made after that…

Andre AsburyJune 8th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Ah. Yes, west didn’t have the jack of hearts. I knew there was some reason the taking the 2nd heart and leading a club through wouldn’t work, unless east leads ace and a low heart. That will legitimately beat it unless declarer then happens to guess not to duck..

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