Andre Asbury

King of the Miami Endplay

I saw several interesting declarer play problems this week in club games. The ones that I made more tricks than I should aren’t as memorable as the ones I went down in. While I often make excellent declarer plays, I have successfully executed several Miami endplays lately.

Dealer: S

Vul: Both


♠ AKQx

♥ xx

♦ Q8xx

♣ ATx


♠ x

♥ AQJx

♦ AJx

♣ J9xxx

South West North East
1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass
1NT Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass

First off, this is an interesting bidding problem. There are major flaws with any way you choose to bid the south hand. I think opening 1♣ and rebidding 1NT is best lie, but I really wanted to open 1♥. I wish I was playing canape as this hand would be great for a 1♥ opening. In 3NT, west led his 4th best heart (which was the 6 and the 5 was still unseen) to east’s 10 and my Q. How would you play from here?

Not wanting another heart lead through my tenace so soon, I opted to cross to the ♠A and take a losing diamond finesse. In retrospect I think leading a club to the 10 is right because that’s the suit is reasonably likely to produce 4 tricks via a double finesse and even if both club honors are off, east may not have a third heart. West thought for awhile after winning the ♦K, guessed well not to play his partner for the ♥J and led a low spade. I won this, crossed to my ♦A, and now played a club to the 10. This lost to the Q and east led a heart to the T and dummy’s Q.

The fact that east did not return a heart implies that he has a 4th spade and another entry, presumably the ♣K. I cashed the ♦Q with everyone following. I cash the long diamond, seeing 2 heart discards from the opponents (both higher than the opening 6 so it is still not clear whether the opening lead was from 4 or 5) Now I have 9 tricks – 3 spades, 2 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 1 club. How might get a 10th? Or better yet how can I turn that into 8 tricks?

With 7 tricks in the bag, I am left with ♠x ♥3 ♦- ♣AT in dummy and ♠- ♥AJ2 ♦- ♣x in my hand. At this point I am convinced that east has the protected ♣K left so finessing the club again or trying to drop the club K is out. If clubs are coming in for one loser, I’ve already lost ground to the field by not attacking clubs earlier so I kind of have to play for both clubs to be offside now.

If west started with ♠Jxxx ♥Kxxx ♦Kxx ♣xx, I can endplay him by cashing the club and playing the last spade.

If west started with ♠xxx ♥Kxxxx ♦Kxx ♣xx, I can endplay him by cashing the club and ducking a heart.

If west started with ♠Jxxx ♥Kxxxx ♦Kxx ♣x, I can endplay him by throwing him in with a spade, and whether or not I cash the club first doesn’t matter.

If west’s original hand was something else (3 or more clubs), which I’ve decided is highly unlikely, I can surely make 4 by either finessing or dropping KQ tight with east.

I opted for the first line, playing west for 4-4-3-2 distribution. When I led the spade, east claimed the last 3 tricks with 2 spades and the ♣K for down 1. West actually had hand #2 so cashing the ace and ducking a heart would have gotten me most of the matchpoints for making 4.

Note that only line #3 is safe – no possible distribution can result in being set. The worst case scenario for exiting dummy with a spade before cashing the club is that east takes 2 spades and then you have 2 aces for the last 2 tricks. Line 2 risks going down when east has a heart high enough to hold the trick and 2 more spades.


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