Eddie Kantar

Test Your Play

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Edited 2-20-09


Dlr: North 
Vul: Neither 

S. A3 
H. J863 
D. 643 
C. KQ74 

S. KQ5 
H. AQ97 
D. J75 
C. A92 

North   East    South  West 
Pass    Pass   1NT       Pass 
2C        Pass   2H        Pass 
4H        All Pass     

Opening lead:  D10 

West, that scoundrel, gets off to the best lead. East cashes the queen, king and ace of diamonds, West following. At trick four East shifts to the SJ. Over to you. 


This one is a gimme! East, a passed hand, has already turned up with 10 HCP which means West has the HK. Your only chance is play the HA at trick five hope to drop the king. 


1. When a passed hand turns up with 10 HCP, play the passed hand's partner for any missing queen, king, or ace. 

The West hand:  S. 7642  H. K  D. 10982  C. J653 
The East hand: S. J1098  H. 10542  D. AKQ  C. 108    


Dlr: South
Vul: Both 

S. 63 
H. 10 
D. Q65432  
C. AQ95

S. A75 
H. AQ654 
D. - 
C. KJ742 

South   West   North   East 
1H        Pass   1NT     Pass 
2C        Pass   3C      Pass 
3S        Pass   5C     All Pass 

Opening lead: SK   East plays the S9.  Plan the play 


Even though is likely that West will continue a spade, why take a chance? You have a likely 11 tricks on a crossruff and a trump switch will force you to alter your strategy. 

Win the SA, cash the HA, ruff a heart low, ruff a diamond low, ruff a heart low, ruff a diamond low, ruff a heart, ruff a diamond low, ruff another heart and take your 10 and 11th trick with the KJ of clubs.  

The West hand:  S. KQ102   H. 873    D. AJ8  C. 1086 
The East hand:   S. J984       H. KJ92  D. K1097  C. 3 


When both hands have short suits, consider playing on crossruff lines. 

Though it is normal technique to duck the trick holding xx facing Axx in the closed hand, it isn't right if you can't stand a hurtful switch like a trump.   

When leading ace from ace-king and king from king-queen, third hand normally signals encouragement with the jack when the king is led but not when the ace is led. 


Dlr: North  
Vul: None 

H. K2 
D. A43 
C. AK1054 

S. J9643 
H. A1043 
D. Q10 
C. Q2  

North      East      South      West 
2C (1)     Pass      2S (2)      Pass 
3S           Pass      4H(3)       Pass 
4NT (4)    Pass      5C (5)      Pass
7S           All Pass   

(1)  Strong and artificial 
(2)  Natural. No particular suit strength promised-obviously.  
(3)  Setting the suit-always a good idea 
(4)  Cuebid 
(5)  RKB with 1430 responses 
(6)  1 keycard  

Opening lead:  D5    Plan the play 


Win the DA (too risky to duck) and play the AK of spades. If spades are 3-2 or the S10 has dropped singleton, play the king-ace and ruff a heart, return to the CQ and play all of your remaining spades. Your last three cards should be the H10, the DQ and the C2, dummy having the AK10 of clubs. 

If the player with the DK or the long heart started with four clubs, he will have already been squeezed. If nothing exciting appears when you draw trump, play the AK10 of clubs and hope the jack obliges. 

If someone started with the 10xxx of spades, draw trump and hope the clubs come in for five tricks. 

West: S. 1075  H.Q876 D. J975  C. 96 
East:  S. 82  H. J95 D. K862 C. J873 


When you have all the tricks but one, be sure to play off ALL of your trumps before cashing your remaining winners. If a squeeze exists, it is the last trump that finishes them off. In this case East is squeezed in the minors on the last spade. Play it out. 


Dlr: East 
Vul: Neither 
IMP scoring   

S. Q43
H. QJ1092 
D. 6432 
C. 2  

S. A1062 
H. AK 
C. J3 

East   South   West   North 
1C      Dbl.      Pass   1H 
2C      3D        Pass    5D 
All Pass 

Opening lead:  C10.  East wins with the queen and continues with the CA, West following with the C6. Plan your play. 


In order to reach dummy's hearts to discard spades, you have to be able to get to dummy with a trump. If trumps are divided 2-2, there is no problem, but if trumps are 3-1, it could get sticky. 

In order to safeguard against a 3-1 diamond division, discard a spade at trick two. East dare not lead a spade from his known king, and will have to find some other suit to lead. If he leads a heart, say, win the heart, play the AKQ of diamonds, unblock your remaining high heart  and cross to dummy with the D5 to dummy's 6 to enjoy dummy's hearts. 

Had East returned yet another club at trick three, ruff with an HONOR discarding a spade from dummy, draw trumps, unblock the hearts, and once again cross to the D6 to use the hearts.  The diamond five is the best card in your hand!


When the only side suit entry to dummy is a late entry in the trump suit, one technique to preserve that entry is to refuse an early dummy force, particularly in a suit in which both declarer and dummy will be void after the force is refused. If yet another round of the force suit is led, the ruff can be taken in the closed hand to preserve dummy's late trump entry. 

The West hand:  S. 9875  H. 8753  D. 9  C. 10984     The East hand:  S. KJ   H. 64  D. 1087  C. AKQ765

The East hand:  S. KJ  H. 64  D. 1087  C. AKQ765



Dlr: South
Vul: Both
IMP scoring

S. A 9
H. 8 6 5
D. 6 5 4 3 2
C. K 6 5

S. J 7 5
H. A Q 4
D. A K Q
C. A Q 4 2

South West   North    East
2NT    Pass    3NT       All Pass

Opening lead: S3 (4th best leads)

You play low from dummy, East comes up with the queen and returns the 6, West playing the deuce. Undaunted you cash the DAK only to see West discard the H2 on the second diamond. Now what?


You still have several chances. Continue with the ace-queen and a club to dummy's king. If clubs are 3-3, your fourth club is your ninth trick. If West has four clubs, take the heart finesse. If East has four clubs, return to the DA and exit with the SJ. West can take his three spade winners but in the end will have to lead a heart into your AQ, tricks number eight and nine.

The West hand: S. K 10 8 3 2 H. K 9 7 3 2 D. 10 C. 10 9
The East hand: S. Q 6 4 H. J 10 D. J 9 8 7 C. J 7 6 3


With two five card suits to choose from, lead from the one that has two honor cards as opposed to the one that has only one. .

When returning partner's suit, with two cards remaining, return the higher; with three cards remaining, return the lowest.

Consider throw in plays rather than finesses if the player being throw in will eventually have to lead your finesse suit thus saving you the trouble- and the anxiety.


Dlr: South
Vul: Both

S. J 8 5
H. 6 4 3
D. A 3 2
C. K 7 6 3

S. A K Q 7 6 4
H. K 7 5
D. 9
C. A 8 5

South    West    North   East
1S         Pass     2S        Pass
4S         All Pass

Opening lead: DK Plan the play (Whenever you lead a spade, both follow)


Duck the opening lead! The idea is to try to establish a long club in dummy (if they break 3-3) without letting East (the danger hand) in to push a heart through your king. If you duck the opening lead, you can win the likely diamond return, discarding a club, exchanging a club loser for a diamond loser, ruff a diamond, cash the SA and play the ace-king and ruff a club high. If clubs break 3-3, draw trump ending in dummy and pitch a heart on dummy's remaining club. Notice that East could not get in to lead a heart when clubs are 3-3. Now you can try for an overtrick by leading up to the HK. If East has four clubs (tough luck) you are reduced to leading up to the HK. But if West has four clubs, you have additional chances. Enter dummy with the SJ and if spades are 2-2, exit dummy with a club pitching a heart. West wins but has to lead a heart (or give you a ruff and a sluff) and you prevail.

The West hand: S. 9 3 H. A 10 8 2 D. K Q 10 7 C. 8 4 2
The East hand: S. 10 2 H. Q J 9 D. J 8 6 5 4 C. Q J 10

You also win when West started with something like this:
S. x x H. A 10 x D. KQ x x C. J 10 x x


When the play is to try to keep the danger hand off lead in the suit you are planning to establish (clubs), a suit that has an inevitable third round loser, consider allowing the opening leader to hold the first trick even though you have the ace of the suit facing a singleton in your hand!

Leading up to an unprotected king is usually a last resort measure, trying to set up dummy's long suit takes precedence.


H. 6
D. AK75
C. AQ98

S. 65
H. A83
D. 643
C. K7643

You don't want to know how you avoided the near-laydown contract of 7C to arrive at 6NT, so don't ask.

However, here you are and the lead is the HQ, naturally, East playing the 7. Plan the play.


Notice the club block? If clubs are 3-1, you can only take four tricks in the suit.... unless you duck the opening lead! If you do, and a heart is returned, discard a club from dummy liberating the suit. If a heart is not returned, and West shifts to a spade or a diamond, win in dummy and play the AQ of clubs. If clubs are 2-2, cash the C9, overtake the 8 and you have 12 tricks: five clubs, four spades two diamonds and a heart. If clubs are 3-1, cross to the CK and discard dummy's last club on the HA and take the same 12 tricks.


The West hand: S. 1082  H. QJ1092  D. J6  C. J105
The East hand:  S. 9743  H. K743 D. Q1096 C. 2


Keep your eyes open for blocked suits. The trick is to unblock a high spot card from the short side (discarding a club on the ace of hearts).


Dlr: North
Vul: Neither

S. KQ6
H. A
D. K108
C. Q98763

S. A75
H. QJ1094
D. A5
C. J104

North  East   South   West
1C      Pass   1H        Pass
2C      Pass   3NT      All Pass

Opening lead: D3   Plan the play 


The sure road to nine tricks is to establish the hearts for four tricks. In order to do that you need two hand entries after unblocking the HA. The sure trick play is to win the DK at trick one, cash the HA, cross to the SA and drive out the HK. You still have the DA to get back to your hand and nine tricks are yours: four hearts, two diamonds and three spades.

You may not have time to set up the clubs if diamonds are divided 5-3 (see actual layout). East can win the first club and continue diamonds. When West gets in with the CK he has enough established diamonds to defeat the contract.

The West hand: S. J92 H. K76  D. Q7632  C. K2

The East hand: S. 10843 H. 8532  D. J94 C. A5


1. Look over the entire hand before deciding upon your line of play.

2. When dealing with a blocked suit, consider entry problems to the hand that has the greater length.

3. The normal play from dummy (when hand entries are not the problem) with this diamond holding is the eight, catering to West having led from honor-nine, twice as likely as the QJ in which case the 10 is the winning play.



Dlr: West
Vul. Both

S. AKQ10
H. AQ6
D. 10975
C. A2

S. 52
H. 984
D. 2
C. KQ98763

West   North   East   South
1D       Dbl.      Pass  4C
Pass    6C        All Pass

Opening lead:  DK    West continues with the DA, East playing the three and then the six. You ruff and lead a club to the ace, West discarding a diamond. Now what?


In order to make this hand you are going to have to organize a trump coup to preven East from scoring a trump trick with his remaining J105 of clubs. This is how you do it. Lead a club from dummy to your king, East splitting his honors. Cash three rounds of spades discarding a heart and ruff a diamond. You remain with the Q98 of clubs and two little hearts. East has the J5 of clubs and three hearts. Cross to the HQ and ruff a spade or a diamond, reenter dummy with the HA at trick 11 and take the last two tricks with your Q9 hovering over East's J5 the lead in DUMMY.


When trying to execute a trump coup you must reduce your trump length to that of your opponent and wind up in dummy at trick 11.


Dlr: South     

Vul: Both      


S. J7
H. J43           
D. 1093        

C. AK752      

S. A1098          
H. AK102        
D. K5
C. Q43

South  West  North  East
1NT     Pass   3NT     All pass

Opening lead: D4 (4th best). East wins the ace and returns the 8 to your king and West's deuce. At trick three you lead the CQ and then a club. On this club West discards the S6. Plan the play.


You can't let the opponents in again as it appears diamonds are 5-3. You are going to have to work with hearts, a suit where you are missing but one honor, and bring in the suit for four tricks. Proper play is to cross to the HA in case either player has a singleton queen, return to dummy with a club and lead a low heart to the ten, catering to Qx of hearts with East hand. If East has Qxx of hearts it doesn't matter whether you lead the jack or a little one and if East started with Q9xx of hearts, East will cover the jack, so the little one is clearly best. 

The West hand: S. K65  H. 9864  D. QJ742  C. 10 

The East hand:  S. Q432  H. Q7  D. A86  C. J986    

Note:  South played well, but not best. At trick three South should cash a high heart before attacking clubs. If clubs are 4-1 South still leads a low heart to the ten, but at least South doesn't lose to the stiff queen in the West hand.


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