Eddie Kantar

Test Your Play

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Edited 3-3-16 



S. -

H. 7432

D. A1098

C. QJ843


S. AK42
H. A

D. K65432

C. 109

After you open 1D and West overcalls 1H, you get to 3NT. West leads the HK. Plan the play.


Have you noticed the diamonds are blocked? Win the HA and cross to the DA. If both follow, cross to the DK and discard dummy's two remaining diamonds on the AK of spades. This play has just liberated your four remaing small diamonds allowing you to take nine tricks: six diamonds, two spades and a heart. The hand is also cold for 5D if diamonds are 2-1, but this is just so much more fun.

The West hand:  S. J1075  H. KQJ108  D. Q  C. K65

The East hand:   S. Q9865  H. 965  D. J7  C. K65


When entries are at a premium and you are trying to take an uninterrupted number of tricks in a blocked suit (the shorter hand having the high intermediates) one way of liberating the suit is to discard one or more of the intermediates on the shorter side of the suit (dummy) upon winners from the other hand. 


Dlr: West

Vul: E-W


S. J942

H. Q10

D. K3

C. Q8762


S. AKQ108

H. 3

D. Q764

C. K43

West   North   East   South 

2H (1) Pass    4H       4S
Pass   Pass     Pass

(1)  Weak 

West leads the king-ace of hearts. Plan the play.


The bottom line is that you have to avoid losing two clubs tricks; not easy with this holding. However, if either defender has Ax, and you lead the suit from the proper hand, you can do it. As East is marked with the CA, (weak twos don't have an AK and an outside ace, please!) ruff the heart, high, and play the Ace and a spade to the nine. If both follow, lead a club to the king and assuming it wins duck a club. If spades are 3-1, play a third spade retaining the lead in dummy and make the same club play. It's your only chance and it's called a "finesse obligata". Are you impressed with yourself or what?

The West hand: S. 63  H. AKJ842  D. 109  C. J95 

The East hand:  S   85  H. 9765  D. AJ852  C. A10



In supported suits, the king is led from the AK(x)  Why?  Because in supported suits one often leads an ace without the king.

With Kxx facing Qxxxx or vice versa, to avoid losing two tricks in the suit, one opponent must have Ax. Determine which opponent is more likely to have that holding and force that opponent to play second to the trick when you start with a low card.



Dlr: South

Vul: N-S


S. Q109

H. A62

D. 842

C. KJ74


S. KJ8

H. Q75


C. AQ109

South   West    North  East 

1NT       2H       3NT     All Pass

Opening lead:  H10.  You play low from dummy and East plays the J. Plan the play 


With both missing aces more or less marked with West, and West also marked with a six card suit, duck the JH. (Call 911 if East produces a second heart!). Assuming East has no more  hearts, you can knock out the spade and diamond aces before West can set up hearts. 

The West hand:  S.  A6  H. K109843  D. A75  C. 82
The East hand:   S. 75432  H. J  D. 10963  C. 653



Dlr: South

Vul: Both


S. 432

H. K83

D. K84

C. 10753


S. AKJ76

H. AQ75

D. 76

C. J4

South   West   North   East

1S        Pass    2S        All Pass

Opening lead:  DQ 

You duck the opening lead and duck again when West continues with the D10.  At trick three West exits with the D2 to East's ace. Plan the play. 


You have lost two diamond tricks, you are going to lose two clubs tricks so you have to hold your major suit losers to one trick. Your best shot for one loser is to ruff the third diamond and play the AK of spades, disdaining the finesse. Assuming spades are a civilized 3-2 (68%), play the AKQ of hearts.  If a high heart is ruffed with the SQ, no matter- that was a loser anyway and you still have a spade in dummy to ruff your remaining heart. 

The West hand:  S. Q98   H. 96   D. QJ102  C. AQ62

The East hand:   S. 105    H  J1042  D. A953  C. K98 



When responding to a 1H or 1S opening bid with three card support, 6 HCP (even some 7 HCP hands) along with a 4-3-3-3 hand, pattern it is usually right to respond 1NT rather than raise the major. An immediate raise should show a slightly more encouraging hand.  This 6 point hand is borderline because it has two kings.

A 4-3 fit in a side suit inclluding the AKQ facing a 5-3 trump fit that includes the AKJ is usually better served by playing the AK of trump and then the AKQ of the side suit. If trumps are 3-2, at most one trick will be lost.  If a trump finesse is taken and it loses, there is a good chance of losing two tricks if the side suit breaks 4-2. However, if a trick cannot be afford to lost, a finesse in the trump suit is the proper play.



Dlr: West

Vul: Neither


S. 9876

H. J109

D. K98

C. K65


S. AK1054

H. 765

D. Q104

C. A2

West       North   East    South

1NT (1)    Pass    Pass    2S

Pass        3S       All Pass

(1)  15-17

Opening lead:  HQ   (Q from AKQ)

West cashes three hearts, East following up the line, and shifts to the CQ. You win the ace and play the AK of spades, West having Qx, East Jx.  How do you play diamonds for one loser?


West  has shown up with 9 HCP in hearts, presumably 3 in clubs and the SQ for a total of 14 HCP.  West cannot have the DA (too many HCP)  but must have the DJ to climb to 15 HCP.  Lead a diamond to the nine.


The West hand:  S. Q3  H. AKQ2  D. J75  C. QJ94

The East hand:   S. J2   H. 843  D. A632  C. 10873


Some players lead the Q from the AKQ on opening lead. Third hand is supposed to give count on the lead of the queen, suit preference on the next lead of the suit.  

Use the bidding to guide you in the play. When a player has a known point count, keep track of the HCP that come out of that player's hand. That information may help you in the play of a particular suit.


Dlr: South

Vul: North-South  


S. 754


D. J10943

C. A


S. A86

H. 54

D. AKQ87

C. J42

South    West    North    East

1D         1S        Dbl.       Pass

2D         Pass    5D         All Pass

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


If West has the HK, you can't go down no matter what you do at trick one. However, if East has the HK it is right to win the first spade if East has a singleton spade, but wrong if East has a doubleton spade.  Which is more likely?  The doubleton scenario is more likely. If East had a singleton spade, West would have started with KQJ10xx and would be more likely to have overcalled 2S, weak, particularly at the prevailing vulnerabilty. Win the second spade, draw trumps, and take the heart finesse. If it works you have an overtrick, if it loses, you still make your contract.

The West hand:  S. KQJ103   H. 982  D. 5  C. K763 

The East hand:   S. 92  H. K1076  D. 62  C. Q10853


With Axx facing xxx, wining the second round of the suit cuts the communications between the defenders' hands if the suit is divided 5-2.


Dlr: West

Vul: Both


S. A9753

H. AK4

D. J973

C. A



S. -

H. 86532

D. AQ108654

C. Q


West    North    East    South

2S (1)   Pass     3C       3D

3S        6D!       All Pass

(1)  Weak


Opening lead:  SK     Plan the play


If you have a diamond loser, you must avoid a heart loser.  In order to do that, you must plan on throwing in the defender who started with Kx of diamonds when he is out of hearts (hopefully). Win the SA, pitching a heart, ruff a spade and play the DA.  If East shows out on the DA.meaing West has Kx, cross to the HK, ruff a spade, back to the HA, ruff a spade, enter dummy with the CA and ruff dummy's last spade. The stage is set. Exit a diamond. If West started with 1 or two hearts, West will be forced to concede a ruff and a sluff and your heart loser will vanish.

If  West shows out on the DA, meaning East has Kx, cash the HAK. the CA, ruff a spade, and exit a trump. If East started with a 2-2-2-7 pattern, he will have to exit a club and once again your heart loser will vanish. 

The West hand:  S. KQJ1086   H. 97   D. K2   C. J103

The East hand:   S. 42  H. QJ10  D. -  C. K9876542 



In a strip and throw in ending with a trump loser and a certain one loser side suit ( AKx  facing xxx, xxxx, or xxxxx),  strip the side suits and cash the AK of the 'certain' loser suit before exiting a trump. If the player who wins the trump exit is void in the certain loser suit, the certain loser suit (the frog) will turn into a no loser suit, (the prince).

#68   YOU DON'T SAY!

Dlr:  West 

Vul:  Both


S. 762

H. 762

D. 9542

C. 872



S. AKQJ1085

H. A


C. AK6

West    North    East    South

3H        Pass     Pass    6S

All Pass

Opening lead:  HK

You win the opening lead (nice play) and plunk down the SA, East discarding a diamond. Plan the play.


With West holding a likely 10 major suit cards, your best bet is to play East to have the DK and be the only defender guarding clubs. Play off each and every one of your spades reducing to the AQ of diamonds and the AK6 of clubs. Assuming East is guarding both minors, East's last three cards will surely be three clubs and Kx of diamonds.  Play the AK and a club.  After East wins and returns a diamond, stick in the queen. You only live once.

The West hand:  S. 943  H. KQJ10983   D. 8   C. Q5 

The East hand:   S. -  H. 54    D. KJ10763  C. J10943


When one defender is presumed to be guarding two suits, it is often possible to throw that defender in with one of the suits to force a favorable return in the other.

#69   CUT, CUT, CUT!

Dlr: North

Vul: E-W 


S. A

H. J842

D. QJ6

C. AQ1086 



S. QJ1098753

H. K

D. -

C. J754

North   East    South    West
1C        1H      4S         All Pass

Opening lead:  C3         Plan the play 



You are clearly being threatened with a singleton lead so the first step is to rise with the ace. The next problem is how to avoid a club ruff. One ugly scenario find West with the Kxx of spades, getting in with the SK, leading a heart to East's ace, and eventually ruffing a club after East cashes the CK. In order to stop this you have to prevent East from getting in with the HA! It can be done if the diamond honors are divided. At trick two lead the DQ. If East plays low, discard the HK. So much for East's heart entry. If East plays the DA, say) ruff, cross to the SA and lead the DJ.  As long as West has the DK, you are alive and well. On the DJ discard the HK and then the most you can lose is the SK.  Don't look now, but you have just performed a 'Scissors Coup', you have cut the communications between the East-West hands by making a loser on a loser play by transferring a trick to the non-danger hand (West) away from the danger hand (East).


The West hand:  S. K62   H. 963   D. K107542   C. 3

The East hand     S. 4       H. AQ1074  D. A983  C. K96 

#70   35 POINT SLAM

Dlr:  South

Vul:  Neither


S. AJ5

H. KQ4

D. 7642

C. 763


S. KQ9

H. J652



South   West    North   East

2C        Pass    2D (1)   Pass

2NT      Pass    4NT       Pass

6NT      All Pass

Opening lead: DJ   Plan the play


You have 9 fast top tricks outside of hearts, and barring an unlikely 3-3 diamond division given the lead, the only suit you can develop for an extra trick is hearts. If hearts are 3-3, no problem, but if they are 4-2, the only East-West holding that allows to take three tricks is when West has Ax. Win the opening lead and continue with a low heart to the queen. Assuming it holds, return to your hand with a diamond (say), and lead a second heart toward the king. If West plays the ace, you have 12 tricks. If the king holds, grit your teeth and lead a third heart hoping for a 3-3 break. 

The West hand:  S. 1072   H. A9   D. J10983  C. 1085

The East hand:   S. 8643   H. 10873  D. 5      C. J942


With KQx  facing Jxxx, the best play for three tricks is to lead up to KQ twice if necessary.



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