HAND OF THE WEEK
Analysis for 17th May 2021:

     Although the bidding suggests that the diamond finesse will be successful you should look for a better plan.         Forewarned by the bidding that a dummy reversal and 4-3 heart break is not going to happen you need to envisage a winning distribution of the opponents cards and plan a cross-ruff instead.      It is best to win HA, cash DA & DK, CK & CA before ruffing a heart, ruff a club,ruff a heart (overruffing if necessary), ruffing a club and lead a heart for another ruff or overruff with SA on table for your twelfth trick.         If  East ruffs in with S9 or S10 you can throw your losing diamond, win the spade exit in dummy and lead another heart (overruffing as necessary).

 

Hand for 18th May 2021:

                                                North:      S      K   6

                                                                 H      J   5  4

                                                                 D      J   4  2

                                                                 C      A   8  6  5  4

 

                                                South:      S      A  Q 10  9  7  2

                                                                 H      10  3

                                                                 D       A   K

                                                                 C       K   3  2

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner doubles showing hcp, you jump to 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West leads HAK (East following with H2 & D5) and switches to D3 (East playing D10).        Plan the play.

Analysis for 16th May 2021:

      Prospects are not good on the bidding as CQ figures to be with the overcall strength but you should first duck a diamond in case the suit breaks 3-3 or to prepare for a squeeze if the hand with four diamonds has CQ.       A secondary chance is if CQ drops doubleton.        You ruff the third spade high, draw trumps in three rounds and duck a diamond in both hands.      East wins and continues diamonds so you win with DK, cash CAK and lead your last trump.      If C10 is not a winner at this stage then it is likely that DA6 will be both be tricks.

 

Hand for 17th May 2021:

                                               North:      S       A   Q  J

                                                                H       A   J  7  6  3

                                                                D       K   J  8

                                                                C       K   7

 

                                               South:      S       K   8  6  5  2

                                                                H       10

                                                                D        A   6  4

                                                                C        A   8  5  3

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner doubles showing hcp, you rebid 2S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C (2A +KS), and partner settles for 6S.        West leads HK.      Plan the play.                                                                    .

Analysis for 15th May 2021:

       With five hearts, four diamonds and two black aces, you need to generate an extra trick tn order to make your slam.        One (but hopeless) idea is to duck the lead, win SA on spade continuation, cash HJ & HA, play four rounds of diamonds discarding a spade (hoping the hand with long trumps cannot ruff in), ruff a spade, cash CA, ruff a club, draw trumps and cash winning diamonds.         However you have the perfectly reasonable line of a dummy reversal which just depends on trumps being 3-2.         You win SA at trick 1, cash CA, ruff a club, cash HA, cross to HJ, ruff a club, cross to DK, ruff a club, cross to DA, draw the outstanding trump with HQ (discarding a spade) and cash DQJ for twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 16th May 2021:

                                                 North:        S        Q   9  3

                                                                    H        K   J  6

                                                                    D        A   6  5  4

                                                                    C        A   J  7

 

                                                 South:        S        4   2

                                                                    H        A  Q 10  8  4

                                                                    D        K   3  2

                                                                    C        K 10  2   

 

Partner opens 1D, East overcalls 1S, you bid 2H, partner bids 2NT, you bid 3H and partner bids 4H.

West leads S8 to East's S10, and East leads SAK.        Plan the play.         

Analysis for 14th May 2021:

       With only seven tricks on top you need a heart trick (or two) so it seems you must duck the first club as the clubs will probably be 2-5 on the bidding.      This manoevre is in order to stop the defence from winning three  and two hearts.    However, you don't want the defence to switch to diamonds so you should follow with C10 under CJ at trick 1 to encourage a club continuation by the defence.         You thus win the second club honour at trick 2 and lead a heart hoping for split honours in the suit.        In this case, if West wins a top heart the defence cannot continue clubs and if East wins a top heart and clears the club suit hopefully West has the other top heart and East has no immediate entry to cash the set-up club suit.  Before leading a second heart you should unblock SKQJ as a matter of standard technique but you should win four spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one or two clubs to fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 15th May 2021:

                                                 North:       S       A  5  4

                                                                   H      Q  J  6

                                                                   D      A  K  6

                                                                   C      A   8  6  4

 

                                                 South:       S      9   8  3

                                                                   H      A  K 10  8  5

                                                                   D      Q  J  8   3

                                                                   C      Q

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H and West overcalls 1S, partner jumps to 2NT and you bid a forcing 3H.        Partner cue-bids 4C to show secondary heart support and CA, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C, you enquire with 5D, partner bids 6D to show DK & HQ and you settle for 6H.         West leads SK.       Plan the play.         

Analysis for 13th May 2021:

       The bidding tells you that East probably has seven or more clubs and thus you should expect a bad trump break with West holding the length.       So your first step after winning CA should be to cash SA - if East plays S10 then the odds would favour running SJ next but on today's hand East discards a club and West thus has SQ108 left and a certain trump trick.       Your only hope now is that West follows suit when you cash your winners and you can force a ruff at trick 11 which means West needs to have at least three diamonds and three hearts and a second club.        Winning the DAQK indicates that East has a doubleton diamond and so you are safe to cash DJ discarding a heart.         You  now need to reduce your trump holding to the same length as West in order to effect the end-play and so you ruff a club, follow with HQAK, ruffing the third heart,       Now the coup-de-gras : ducking a trump in both hands and West has to lead away from SQ10 enabling you to take the last two tricks with SJ & SK.

 

Hand for 14th May 2021:

                                                North:       S       K  Q  J

                                                                  H       Q  J   7  6

                                                                  D       K   7  5  3

                                                                  C       8   2

 

                                                South:       S       A  10  7  3

                                                                  H       10  9  4

                                                                  D        A   6

                                                                  C        A  10  9  6

 

You open 1NT (12-14), partner bids 2C Stayman, East doubles for a club lead, you bid 2S, partner cue-bids 3C and you bid 3NT.        West leads C7 and East plays CJ.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 12th May 2021:

      West has shown normally six  spades and thus is unlikely to hold four or more diamonds.        The contract depends on not losing two diamonds.         If the suit breaks 3-2 you can just draw trumps and just lose at most DK.         However you cannot afford to lose DK and a ruff so it is prudent to draw three rounds of trumps before tackling the diamond suit.        Of the 4-1 breaks, West has a singleton 9 or 10 twice as often as a singleton King so you should lead CJ after winning SK at trick 1 and drawing trumps in three rounds.       East can cover with DK but you win DA, cross to SK in order to lead D3 intending to just cover East's card.       If West wins D6 with D8 the the suit is 3-2 and the remaining diamond (S10) will drop when you cash DQ.       If East plays D7 you win DQ, and concede D6 to East's D10 thus making D8 the winning diamond (on the fourth round) and so you make twelve tricks with four diamonds, five hearts, one club and two spades.

 

Hand for 13th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        K  5  2

                                                                 H        A  K  6

                                                                 D        K  J  9  7

                                                                 C        8   5  3

 

                                               South:       S        A   J  9  6  4  3

                                                                 H        Q   J  4

                                                                 D        A   Q 10

                                                                 C        A

 

East pre-empts 3C, you jump to 4S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5C response (3 Aces) bids 6S.

West leads C9 to East's CJ.       Plan the play.  

Analysis for 11th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has the remaining Queens to make up a 1NT opener and probably has four trumps as well when East plays SJ at trick 4 when you can SA.       All you need therefore is to make three more trump tricks to go with the ruff at trick 3, SA, DAK & HAKQ so you merely need West to follow to three hearts and three diamonds in order to make your contract.        You then cash SK, HAKQ, DAK, ruff a diamond and lead your fourth heart.       If West ruffs high, S10 is now the master trump and otherwise S10 wins a trick "en passant"  as you know that East cannot overruff.

 

Hand for 12th May 2021:

                                                 North:        S       A  4

                                                                    H       A  Q  10  9  6

                                                                    D       J   8    5  4  3

                                                                    C       2

 

                                                  South:       S       K   2

                                                                    H       K   J   2

                                                                    D       A   Q   6

                                                                    C       A   J   10

 

West opens a weak 2S, partner cue-bids 3S (Michaels', hearts and a minor), you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner bids 5S (2 Aces & HQ), and you settle for 6H.        West leads SQ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 10th May 2021:

           East's double for a diamond lead tells you that rising with DQ is a forlorn hope and the contract appears to rely on a successful guess as to the location of HQ.        However, the best plan is to initially play for split honours in clubs - win DA over East's DJ, cash CA & SA, cross to S9 and lead CJ discarding a diamond if it is not covered by CQ or CK.      You then ruff West's diamond exit, cash HAK and try the ruffing finesse in clubs if HQ has not dropped in two rounds throwing HJ if a club honour does not appear.       When HQ drops doubleton (an 18% chance) you don't need to risk the club finesse and you just claim twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 11th May 2021:

                                               North:       S      10  8   5

                                                                 H       K  4

                                                                 D       K  7   4  3

                                                                 C       7   6   4  2

 

                                               South:       S       A  K   7  3  2

                                                                 H       A  Q   6  2 

                                                                 D       A  10

                                                                 C       J   8

 

West opens a weak 1NT, passed round to your double, passed round to East who runs to 2C (Clubs & a higher suit), passed round to partner who bids 2D, you bid 2S, partner invites with 3S and you bid 4S.        West leads three top clubs (East petering to show an even number).       You ruff and cash SA (East following with HJ).       Plan the play.

Analysis for 9th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has all the missing Kings and Queens and you have to hope that the trumps are not 4-Nil.    The usual way to play this kind of weakish trump fit is to duck one round, take the spade continuation (SQ) and leave the trumps alone thereafter.       As the bidding tells you that West will win the second diamond and cash a third trump you will be unable to ruff a diamond in dummy.       So you should plan for a kind of dummy reversal anticipating to ruff three hearts in hand.        You win HA, ruff a heart, cross to C10, ruff a heart, cross to CJ and ruff a fourth heart.      Even if West can overruff you still come to a trump and two club winners and DA for ten tricks otherwise you cash your winning clubs and DA for ten tricks.

 

Hand for 10th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        10  9  7

                                                                 H         K 10 9  4

                                                                 D         Q  2

                                                                 C         J  10  9  8

 

                                               South:       S         A  K  Q  J  8  5  2

                                                                  H         A  J  3

                                                                  D         A  6

                                                                  C         A

 

You open an artificial 2C, partner responds an artificial 2D, East doubles for a lead, you jump to 3S, partner bids 5S and you bid 6S.        West leads D7.        Plan the play.                                                                              .

Analysis for 8th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has five or more spades heading by the SA only with probably strength in diamonds rather than hearts owing to the opening lead which you naturally win with HK.     It appears that you have a choice of setting up the hearts although it appears that East has the length in the suit and also going for diamond ruffs.      So after HK you cross to DA and ruff a diamond, cash HA to avoid being stuck  in dummy if the defence ducks your later first spade lead, cross to CQ and ruff a  second diamond, cross to CK (noting trumps are 3-1 with West holding the length), ruff a third diamond loser with CJ and lead SJ.       West either has to lead a black card to enable you to cash CA (drawing the outstanding trump) plus SKQ or ruff a possible heart exit in hand before claiming CA & SKQ.        Note the Dentist Coup (Cashing HA as suggested above) , a manoevre named by the late great Terence Reese because of the element of extraction.

 

Hand for 9th May 2021:

                                               North:      S      8   5  2

                                                                H      A 10 4  2

                                                                D      J   3

                                                                C      A  J 10  5

 

                                               South:      S      A   9  7  6  3

                                                                H      Q

                                                                D      A   8  2

                                                                C      K  Q  6  4

 

West opens a weak 1NT, you double after two passes, passed round to East who bids 2D (diamonds and a major),

you bid 2S, and partner raises to 4S.       West leads SK.       Plan the play.

      With only seven tricks on top only due to the spade duplication you need 2 extra tricks which appear to only come from the red suits.       This can come either by winning four diamond tricks if East has DQ or DJ singleton or West has DQJ doubleton or if diamonds are 3-2 and you can manoevre an end-play forcing West to give you a second heart trick.         There is no advantage in ducking the heart lead as West may switch to clubs and you can also block the defence running West's suit by covering a possible second heart lead by East.      So you win HA and cash DK (no honour appearing) and follow with  D2 to dummy's D8 and East's DJ.     When East exits with a spade it is likely that the heart suit is 6-2.      You win SK, cash DA10 and duck a club in both hands, East winning CK and exiting with a spade to your SA.     You can now place twelve of West's cards - six hearts, 3 diamonds, one club and two spades, so you cash CA and SQ and lead H9.      Either West has to allow this to hold for your ninth trick or overtake, cash HQ but concede a trick to your HJ for your ninth trick.

 

Hand for 8th May 2021:

                                             North:      S        J   8

                                                              H        A  K  J  6  3

                                                              D       10

                                                              C        J   9  6  3  2

                                       

                                             South:      S        K  Q  3

                                                              H         5  2

                                                              D         A  6   3  2

                                                              C         A  K  Q  7

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2H, you jump to 3NT, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C and partner signs off with 6C.       West leads H10.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 6th May 2021:

        The bidding and lead tells you that East has HQJ10xx(x) and DA to make up the vulnerable 1H overcall.       You start by winning HA at trick 1, cashing CK, crossing to C10 (West discarding a heart) and leading a diamond from the dummy in the hope of East holding a singleton DA.       When East withholds DA, you win DQ and have a choice of hoping for a doubleton DA (poor odds) or hoping the spades are 3-3 or either East or West has SJx alone (reasonably likely).      However the defence may discard badly and it does no harm to cross to SQ and cash three more clubs.       On the first you throw a heart, then a diamond and on the last top club you throw another heart unless East has thrown three hearts which will mean your H9 is a boss.      If East has thrown two more diamonds and no spades you exit with D8 to DA singleton at this stage and make SA, HK and DK9 at the end.       Otherwise you cash SA, cross to HK and play the spades from the top hopefully ending with a lucky overtrick.

 

Hand for 7th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        Q  J   2

                                                                 H        9   3

                                                                 D        A  10  8  3

                                                                 C        A   6   4  2

 

                                               South:       S        A   K   4

                                                                 H        A    J   7  2

                                                                 D        K    7   4  2

                                                                 C         5   3

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner cue-bids 2H (showing a good 3D raise without a heart stop) & you bid 3NT.

West leads HK.       Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 5th May 2021:

       With two diamonds and  a heart to lose  it appears you need the club finesse although the bidding suggests this is likely to be wrong, East having opened the bidding.       With only an eight card trump suit there can be no perfect elimination play possible as there will not be a trump left in dummy if all the trumps are drawn.       However you should try the partial elimination instead which offers a small extra chance.       Duck the first trick in both hands forcing East to win, Ace the heart continuation, cash SAK (leaving the last trump outstanding) and then play DA and another.        When East cannot exit with a diamond or a trump you are home as even if East unblocks DK, West cannot overtake DJ without it costing declarer's tenth trick.

Hand for 6th May 2021:

                                              North:       S       A  Q

                                                                H       6   2

                                                                D       K  9  8  3

                                                                C       A  Q  J 10  3

 

                                              South:       S       K 10  9  4   2

                                                                H       A   K  9  4

                                                                D       Q   4

                                                                C       K   8

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1H, you bid 1S, partner jumps to 3D, you bid 4NT (RKCB) and over partner's 5C response (3 of the 5 Aces) you settle for 6NT.       West leads H7 to East's H10.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 4th May 2021:

       When the opposition pre-empt you should try and allow for freakish distribition and play carefully.       West is likely to hold strength in both majors and can probably be embarrased in the end position but you cannot draw trumps straightaway as you need to ruff two clubs on the table.      What you must not do is give East the chance to obtain the lead (via SJ or ruffing a spade and switch to hearts dislodging dummy's HA.      The best plan is thus to win SA, cross to CA, ruff a club, lead D7 across to D8. ruff a club, overtake DK with DA and run all your trumps playing for West to come down to SQ & HKJ.      You then exit with S6 and let the heart exit run to your HQ for your twelfth trick.

 

Hand  for 5th May 2021:

                                               North:      S      9   8  3

                                                                H     A  10

                                                                D     10  8  5  3

                                                                C      A  Q  6  5

 

 

                                               South:       S     A  K  Q 10  4

                                                                 H      8  4

                                                                 D      A  9   6   2 

                                                                 C      7   2

 

East opens 1H, you overcall 1S, partner cue-bids 2H to show a good spade raise, you try for game with 3D and partner accepts and bids game with 4S.      West leads H3.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 3rd May 2021:

      Your contract is in danger of losing four spades and HA only if West's overcall suit is SK10863 or SK10863.       In either of these cases you need to rise with SA to block the run of the suit.       If  West holds both HA and DK you are also likely to be doomed to defeat and must hope that East has one of these cards but West must surely hold one to justify a vulnerable overcall.      The Rule of eleven tells you that East two cards higher than S6 and so has a doubleton SQ10, SK10, SK9, SQ9, S108 or S109 as presumably S6 would not be led from any combination containing S10 & S9.      Holding SK9 or SQ8, East would surely unblock the high honour so the odds just favour playing low at trick 1 as you can block the run of the defence suit by ducking S10 if East's doubleton is SK10 or SQ10.        After East wins SQ and S10 you win the club exit with CA and knock out HA, winning East's club exit and losing DK to West setting up your ninth trick for your delicate contract.

       Incidentally if West has led from SKQxxx then after winning SJ you must cross to dummy and take the diamond finesse first before tackling hearts in the hope that West has only one of DK & HA.

 

Hand for 4th May 2021:

                                              North:      S      A  9  7  5  3

                                                               H      A  4  2

                                                               D      K  Q 7  5           

                                                               C      3

 

                                               South:     S      6    2

                                                               H      Q   5

                                                               D      A   J  10  9  8  4

                                                               C      A   6   2 

 

East opens 3C, you overcall 3D, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5H(2 Aces) and partner bids 6D.

West leads SK.        Plan the play.              

Analysis for 2nd May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has at least five spades and is likely but not certain to hold DQ so you should make the diamond finesse your last resort.       A better plan is a dummy reversal where you plan to make ruffs with the long trump hand and use the short trump hand to belatedly draw trumps assuming they break normally, i.e. 3-2 in this case.       You still have the diamond finesse as a final chance if the trumps prove to be 4-1.       So ruff the second spade lead high, cash CA, lead  C4 to C9 and ruff dummy's third spade, cross to HK, ruff dummy's fourth spade, cross to DK, draw the last outstanding trump with CK (discarding a diamond) and cross to hand to cash DA & HAQJ.

 

Hand for 3rd May 2021:

                                               North:       S       A   7   2

                                                                 H       J  10  9  2

                                                                 D       J   9   7  2

                                                                 C       K   5

 

                                               South:       S       J   5   4

                                                                 H       K  Q   7

                                                                 D       A  Q  10

                                                                 C       A   9   6  4

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for takeout, you rebid 1NT, partner invites with 2NT and you bid 3NT.   West leads S6.       Plan the play.     

Analysis for 1st May 2021:

       You know from the bidding that West has CKQxxx(x) and probably DA.       So win CA, draw trumps in two or three rounds, eliminate the heart suit by playing HA, HK, ruff a heart and exit with a second club.       If East wins this trick and switches to a diamond you play D8.      Dummy wins DQ and you exit with a third round of clubs.       West can win C9 but is end-played to either give you a trick with DK or give you a ruff and discard and you ruff in one hand and discard a losing diamond in the other hand.    Either way you end up with ten tricks losing just two clubs and one diamond.

 

Hand for 2nd May 2021:

                                               North:      S      8  7  3  2

                                                                H     K  2

                                                                D     K  7  5  4

                                                                C     K  9  2

 

                                               South:      S     4

                                                                H     A  Q  J  5

                                                                D     A   J  6

                                                                C     A  Q  J 10  4

 

After two passe you open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2D, you cue-bid 2S, partner bids 3C, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C and you bid 6C.      West leads SAK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 30th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has HK & DQ to make up a vulnerable overcall so you will be able to put pressure on in the end position to make your optimistic grand slam.       You merely win DK at trick one, cash three top spades (drawing the outstanding trumps), cash HA (known as a Vienna Coup in squeeze play terminology), cash CAK (discarding a diamond), ruff a club back to hand and run all your trumps.        Your last two cards are HQ & D9.       If East has discarded HK you cash HQ and lead to DA but otherwise East will have bared DQ and DAJ will win the last two tricks.         If you don't cash HQ early East will still be squeezed but you have to guess which suit (of diamonds and hearts) has been unguarded.

 

Hand for 1st May 2021:

                                             North:      S     A   J  8  6

                                                              H     K  8  2

                                                              D     Q  6  4

                                                              C     A   7  3

 

                                             South:      S     K  Q  9  7  4

                                                              H     A   3

                                                              D     K  10  8

                                                              C      6   5   4

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 3C (a good spade raise), you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West leads CK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 29th April 2021:

       You win CK at trick three having lost SA & CA and lead a heart to the HK and ruff a spade and cash HA (East contributing HQ and East discarding a club).      The spade overcall looks a bit thin without a diamond honour but you don't need to assume how the diamonds are divided as you know from the bidding that West has five or six spades and thus East has two or three.        You just need to ruff a club and ruff a spade to ensure that East is out of spades and then run DQ if not covered.      If East is able to win DK then any continuation costs a trick as a diamond picks up the defence's DJ and a club allows you to ruff in one hand and discard a losing diamond from the other hand.       You don't need to guess the position of the diamond honours to make your contract.

 

Hand for 30th April 2021:

                                                  North:       S       Q   7   3

                                                                    H       A   7

                                                                    D       A   J   5

                                                                    C       A   K   9   5   3

 

                                                  South:       S       A   K   9   8  6  5  2

                                                                     H      Q   5

                                                                     D      K   9    2

                                                                     C       4

 

Partner opens 1C, West overcalls 1D, you respons 1S, partner rebids 2NT, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C (3Aces), you enquire with 5D, partner bids 6C (SQ + CK) and you risk 7S.     West leads D7 to D5,10,K.     Plan the play. 

                                                    .

Analysis for 28th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has all 12 missing hcp including CKJ & HA so there is no point leading a club towards CQxx hoping that East holds CK.      After winning SK and cashing DJ10 to draw West's known doubleton trump holding you lead H2.       West has to play low otherwise you can discard a club on SA and CQ on HK after unblocking HQ and so HK will win trick 4.      You then cash SA discarding C3 and run five further rounds of trumps watching West's discards.        On your last trump you discard S9 unless West has discarded SJ & S10 when you discard a club and cash CA & S9.        It should be reasonably easy to decide whether West 's last three cards are HA and CKJ or singleton CK, HA and another major suit card.             If the former you exit with HQ and West has to lead away from CKJ to give you CQ as a trick, otherwise you cash CA and cross to CQ to make your twelvth trick.

 

Hand for 29th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      J   8  5  2

                                                                  H     K  10 9  7

                                                                  D     A   9   4

                                                                  C     7   5

 

                                                 South:      S     K

                                                                  H     A   J   8   6   5   4

                                                                  D     Q  10  3

                                                                  C      K  Q   2

 

After three passes you open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner raises to 2H, East bids 2S, you make a trial bid of 3D and partner jumps to 4H.       West leads S10 to East's SA and East exits with C9 to CQA and West exits with CJ.

Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 27th April 2021:

   The bidding and play to the first trick places West with SAQxxx and either HA or CK to make up a reasonable 1S overcall.      So it appears that you cannot force out HA to make your hoped for nine tricks as the defence will then likely cash the next four tricks in spades for one off.      There is a chance however that West has HA and East has CK but you must play carefully to make the most of this good fortune if clubs are 2-4.       You win SJ at trick 1, cash DQ, lead specifically D8 to DK, finesse C10, lead DJ to DA, finesse CJ, lead D2 to dummy's D3, finesse CQ and cash CA for your ninth trick and fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 28th April 2021:

                                               North:       S      A   9   4

                                                                 H     K   5   3

                                                                 D     K   Q   4   3

                                                                 C     A    3   2

 

                                               South:       S     K

                                                                 H     Q    2

                                                                 D     A    J   10   9   8   7   6

                                                                 C     Q    5    4

 

West opens a weak 1NT, partner doubles for penalties, East bids 2H (showing hearts and spades), you jump to 5D and partner raises too 6D.        West leads SQ.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 26th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has led a singleton so you win DA and cash SA (East discarding a club).       You now know that you will not succeed in ruffing diamonds in dummy as West will ruff in and you cannot overruff.        However, all you need now is for hearts to break no worse than 4-2 (or singleton Q) but you must be careful not to draw three or four rounds of trumps.      With no apparent entry to dummy you need to enlist West's help!      At trick 3 you should cross to HA, ruff a low heart with SK, cross to CK and ruff a low heart with SQ.      Unless West has underruffed on the last trick you play SJ10 and exit with your last trump (discarding D4).       Of course if West had "wasted" a trump by underruffing you exit one trick earlier with S5.      In either case,  West has to then give you the lead in dummy in order for you to cash HKJ7 and CA and thus you fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 27th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      10  9  8

                                                                  H       K  7  2

                                                                  D       A  K  4  3

                                                                  C       4   3  2

 

                                                 South:      S       K  J

                                                                  H       Q  J 10

                                                                  D       Q  J   8  2

                                                                  C       A  Q  J  10

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1S, partner jumps to 3D and you bid 3NT.       West leads S5.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 25th April 2021:

        With only seven tricks on top you need to make more than one extra trick from the diamond suit.      You expect West to have DA on the bidding although that is not guaranteed and thus have a reasonable play of low to DK and ducking on the way back hoping for a doubleton DA.       However that is odds against so you should look for a better plan.     As you can afford to lose a heart and two diamonds the best plan is to first duck HQ, win the heart continuation and lead D2 intending to just cover West's card hoping that you can follow with D9 if West plays D3 or D8.       East can then win cheaply with D8 or D10 or DJ but has no hearts left to clear West's hearts as the hearts are expected to be 6-2 on the bidding.      You then win East's black suit exit in hand and lead a second diamond to DK and assuming both opponents follow you can clear the diamonds with a third round when DK wins.      If West plays D10 on the first round you have to win DK and follow with D7 ducking if East plays D8 or covering D10 or DJ with DQ to set up D9 as a third round winner.     Unless West has DAJ10 you will be able to make two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and three clubs for a well-deserved overtrick.

Hand for 26th April 2021:

                                                North:      S      4  3  2

                                                                 H     A  K  J  7  3  2

                                                                 D     3   2

                                                                 C     A  K

 

                                               South:       S     A  K  Q  J 10 5

                                                                 H     4

                                                                 D     A  10  9  5  2

                                                                 C     4

 

Partner opens 1H, East opens 2D, you bid 2S, partner jumps to 4S, you bid 4NT (RKCB) and over partners 5H response you jump to 6S.        West leads D6 to East's DJ & your DA.       East discards a club on SA.      Plan the play. 

Analysis for 24th April 2021:

       There is no certain best play for the contract.      The bidding tells you that East is limited and as well as honours in hearts will have probably one of DAQ but probably not both and probably will be shorter in diamonds than East so it looks like you need to guess the diamond suit correctly.      The best line could be to win HA, cross to SKQ, ruff a heart and lead DJ.         This is a good pschological play as East holding DQ will be loth to play it thinking you have DA rather than West.      When West wins DA the likely heart exit allows you to discard a club from dummy and eventually ruff two clubs on the table.       A diamond exit will give you a free finesse aginst the missing honour and a club exit allows you to play for split honours - one defender holding the CJ and one holding CQ.

 

Hand for 25th April 2021:

                                                 North:       S      A  7  4  2

                                                                   H      9  3

                                                                   D      K  9  7

                                                                   C      A  K  7  3

 

                                                  South:      S      K  9  3

                                                                    H     A  K  5

                                                                    D     Q  6  5   4  2

                                                                    C     Q  8

 

West opens a weak 2H, partner doubles for take-out and you jump to 3NT.       West leads HQ.        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 23rd April 2021:

     The contract is good but you need to play carefully to avoid losing three diamonds and a club.       You should win SK at trick 1, cross to H10, lead a second spade to SA, ruff a spade high with HA, cross to H9, ruff a spade and only now play CA and another club.         Unexpectedly East can win this with CK but you can just cover the diamond East exits with and West is end-played to either give you a trick with DK or give you a ruff-and-discard - you ruff in one hand and throw a diamond from the other hand and so only lose a club and two diamonds to chalk up your contract.

 

Hand for 24th April 2021:

                                                North:       S      A   6  5  3

                                                                  H      A

                                                                  D      K  J  10  9  8

                                                                  C      K  10  9

 

                                                South:       S      K   Q   J  9  8  7

                                                                  H       8   7

                                                                  D       2

                                                                  C       A   8   7  6

 

Partner opens 1D, East bids 2H (weak) at favourable vulnerability, you bid 2S, East jumps to 4H, partner cue-bids 5H and you jump to 6S.       West leads H10.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 22nd April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has all the three missing Kings and DQ  included in the 1NT opener.       Therefore you can put pressure on East by running your long trump suit.       You win DA, cross to one of the major suit aces, cash the other Ace (optional) and play CA and CQ forcing out East's CK.      When West shows out you know you have no further problems as East cannot lead a diamond without setting up your DJ and if a major is led you ruff a King or on a small card exit you let it run to dummy's Queen discarding a diamond.      Perforce East has to exit with a trump to avoid setting up your twelvth trick.      Now you just run all your trumps but one coming down to SQ, HQ & DA in dummy and a trump and DJ10 in hand.      If East has not discarded a major suit King (in which case you lead to DA to cash the appropriate Queen discarding your last diamond) the DQ will now drop under DK and you return to hand with a ruff to cash DJ.

 

Hand for 23rd April 2021:

                                                  North:      S      A  K  5  2

                                                                   H      Q  J  9  6

                                                                   D      9   5  3

                                                                   C      Q  4

 

                                                  South:      S      8   3

                                                                   H      A   K  10  7  3  2

                                                                   D      K  10   6

                                                                   C      A    7

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner cue-bids 3D to show a good heart raise and you jump to 4H.    West leads SQ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st April 2021:

        With East holding DA, West has to have SA and likely SQ as well as CK to justify a vulnerable two level overcall on only a Queen high five card suit.       To allow for the clubs being 4-1 you must now run your four heart winners.        To keep three more clubs to stop the run of the suit West has to discard two cards from SAQ and two diamond winners.        All you need to do now is finesse CJ and exit with a spade and West has to give you the last two tricks with CA9.        If you take the club finesse early West can throw two clubs on the hearts and you go one down.

Hand for 22nd April 2021:

                                                 North:       S       Q  10  5  2

                                                                   H       Q  10  8  7  2

                                                                   D       A   K   5  4

                                                                   C       Void

 

                                                 South:       S       A

                                                                   H       A

                                                                   D       J   10   2

                                                                   C       A    Q   J   10  9  6  4  3

East opens a weak 1NT, you double for penalties, West bids 2H (showing both majors, partner doubles for penalties, East converts to 2S and you jump to 6C.        West leads D9.       Plan the play. 

                                                                                       C

    J  10    . 

Analysis for 20th April 2021:

       The contract makes an overtrick if trumps are friendly but you should consider what will happen if the trumps break 4-1 , a not insignificant one in four chance.        You need not lose a trump with this combination if East has four trumps including the jack by the simple play of cashing HA and crossing to HK, taking the marked finesse of H10 when West shows out.       However, if West has HJxxx, you risk losing control as a second spade lead will reduce you to only one trump left having ruffed the spade lead at trick 1.       The simple way to ensure your contract is to cash HAQ at tricks 2 and 3.       If either opponent shows out you merely play on clubs (starting with CAK) until an opponent ruffs, win the exit with DA or a spade ruff in hand, cross to HK (drawing the last outstanding trump) and run the rest of the winning clubs, losing just one trump and two diamonds at  the end.

 

Hand for 21st April 2021:

                                                North:       S       J   5   3

                                                                  H      K   Q   2

                                                                  D      2

                                                                  C      A    J   9   8  6  4

 

                                                South:       S      K    4   2

                                                                  H      A    J   10  3

                                                                  D      K    9    8   5

                                                                  C      Q    7

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner rebids 3C and you settle for 3NT.      West leads DQ which you duck and continues with D6 to East's DA and a third diamond is won by your DK.       CQ wins the next trick (East following with C10).         Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th April 2021:

        The bidding suggests a bad trump break as East surely has four or five diamonds for the penalty double, probably only DKQ75 as West would not have a legitimate opening bid without a singleton DA.        West also probably has six clubs on the bidding, East having only belatedly supported West.        However, you should have a good chance of making your contract if all you lose is just four trump tricks as you have tops in all the side-suits.       You need to ruff two hearts in dummy if the suit breaks 4-2 not caring if you are overruffed by trump tricks you expected to lose anyway.          It is essential that you cash CAK first before HAK and ruffing a heart with D8.         If you start on the hearts first East can refuse to overruff D8 and throw a club so he can ruff CA, cross to West's DA and ruff East's winning club exit with DK and draw dummy's last trump with DQ leaving declarer with a fourth round heart loser which defeats the contract by on trick.        This defence is not available if you have a safe club (C4) to exit dummy with.         You thus chalk up +870 for your doubled contract making exactly.

 

Hand for 20th April 2021:

                                                  North:        S        4   3

                                                                     H        K  7   4

                                                                     D        7   6   5

                                                                     C        Q  J  10  9   8

 

                                                   South:       S        Void

                                                                     H        A  Q  10  6   5

                                                                     D        A   4   3   2

                                                                     C        A   K   6   5

 

East opens 1S, you double for take-out, West bids 2S, partner bids 3C, East bids 3S and you decide to bid 4H and all pass.        West leads S2.

Plan the play.

                                   

Analysis for 18th April 2021:

            The bidding suggests that East has CK rather than West and so you should go for an end-play against East.       Having ruffed the third spade high and drawn trumps in two rounds, you cash DK, DA and ruff a diamond and then lead S8 from dummy discarding a club from hand.       If East exits with a spade you discard a second club from hand and ruff in dummy and if East exits with a club you run it round to dummy's CQ.        Either way you end up with ten tricks and your contract.

 

Hand for 19th April 2021:

                                                North:       S      A    8   7   5   3

                                                                  H      A  10

                                                                  D      8    3   2

                                                                  C      A    4   3

 

                                                 South:      S      Q

                                                                  H       K   7   6   4   2

                                                                  D       J   10  9   6   4

                                                                  C       K   10

 

West opens 1C, partner overcalls 1S, East bids 2C after two passes, you bid 2H after two passes, East competes with 3C after two passes, you bid 3D and after two passes East doubles for penalties.      West leads CQ.     Plan the play.  

Analysis for 17th April 2021:

        You should ruff the opening lead in dummy with C3 and (essentially) trump a small spade with C8 and lead C9 to CJ.      If neither opponent shows out you simply ruff a spade high, draw trumps and claim.       If West is void in clubs you must hope that the spades are now established and run spades until East ruffs in when you can overruff, draw trumps and cash winning spades.    If East is void in clubs you ruff a spade high and lead the carefully preserved C2 for a finesse against West's C10, draw trumps and run the spades suit, making twelve tricks and your contract.       Any other sequence of plays will end up in defeat.

 

Hand for 18th April 2021:

                                                 North:       S       8  6  4  3

                                                                   H      K  Q  7  3

                                                                   D      K   7

                                                                   C      Q   9  5

 

                                                 South:       S       J   7

                                                                    H      A   J  10 6  2 

                                                                    D      A   9   5

                                                                    C      A   7   3

 

East opens 1S, you overcall 2H, partner cue-bids 2S and you settle for 4H.      Wext leads S10 and East cashes SQA and leads SK which you ruff high and draw trumps in two rounds.       Plan the play . 

Analysis for 16th April 2021:

       West has done well to lead trumps rather than a spade enabling declarer to take a likely winning finesse.        However, if West's spades are headed by SJ, East's SK can be ruffed out and also West will then likely hold HK to add up to a reasonable overcall.      So win trick 2 with C8, cash SA, ruff a spade, cash DAK, lead a third diamond, ruffing in dummy and ruff a second spade.      When SK has not appeared you lead your last diamond.       East, if holding the thirteenth diamond, is end-played to lead a heart.      If West has the thirteenth diamond you will still need the heart finesse for your contract but you have given yourself the best chance of making your contract.

 

Hand for 17th April 2021:

                                                North:       S        A  K  Q  7  6  5  4

                                                                  H        5

                                                                  D        Void

                                                                  C        A  Q  J  7  3

                                                South:       S       Void

                                                                  H       K   J 10  3  2

                                                                  D       10  4  3   2

                                                                  C        K   9  8   2

East opens 1D, you overcall 1H, West bids 2D, partner bids 2S, you bid 3C and partner jumps to 6C. 

West leads D4 to East DA.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 15th April 2021:

         The contract is good and makes easily if diamonds and trumps are both 3/2 but a 4/1 break is a not trivial chance of 1 in 4.

You have no chance if both suits break 4/1 but can allow for hearts 4/1 if diamonds are 3/2.      If you ruff the second club and cash HAK and West shows out, East can ruff the third diamond and exit with a trump leaving you with two spade losers and thus one off and you cannot play four rounds of trumps as the defence can then cash clubs.      Therefore you should ruff the second club and cash HA.     If both opponents follow small you should duck a heart to effectively keep control.       If West plays one of the HJ, H10 or H9 then the Principle of Restricted choice suggests that East has the other two and you should cross to DQ and run the H6 if East follows with H3 otherwise win HQ, cross to DK and take the marked finesse of H7, draw the last trump and run your diamonds to make an overtrick.

 

Hand for 16th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      A  Q  5  4  3

                                                                  H      A  Q  8

                                                                  D      9   2

                                                                  C      J   8   6

 

                                                 South:      S      Void

                                                                  H      6   5   3

                                                                  D      A   K  7  4

                                                                  C      K   Q 10  9  7  5

 

You open 1c, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 3NT and you settle for 5C.       West leads CA and another club.

Plan the play.                  

     .

Analysis for 14th April 2021:

The contract is a good one as you have plenty of chances to not lose both a heart and a trump.     You start with a trump to the Ace and both opponents follow small.     If West had followed with an honour the Principle of Restricted Choice indicates that East would have the other honour left so you might play the finesse of S10 next but it is still right to play a partial elimination similar to the lines below.     You should start by ruffing a club and cashing SK (West turning up with SQJ).        Now cash HK, DA, DQ and lead a third diamond.        If West has a doubleton diamond and ruffs the third diamond a club exit allows you to ruff in hand a throw a third heart from dummy, cash HK and ruff a heart in dummy and throw one on DK and a heart exit gives you three heart tricks.       If West has four diamonds you ruff the fourth round and exit with a trump to West's SQ.      Once again a club lead allows you to ruff in dummy and take the marked heart finesse, West being 3-1-4-5 shape.      And if diamonds are 3-3 you throw a heart on the thirteenth diamond and exit with SQ to end-play West as above.

 

Hand for 15th April 2021:

                                               North:      S       5  4  2

                                                               H       8  6  5

                                                               D       A  K  Q  6  5

                                                               C       Q  J

 

                                               South:     S       K 10  8  3

                                                               H       A   K  Q  7  4

                                                               D        9   7   2

                                                               C        9

 

East opens 1C, you overcall 1H, West jumps to 3C. partner doubles to invite game and you jump to 4H.   

West leads C4 to East's CA who cashes SA and continues with a second club which you ruff.        Plan the play .

Analysis for 13th April 2021:

       With hearts 6-1 on the bidding you have to broach trumps straight away to avoid a heart ruff.       Also you cannot afford to finesse SJ as East will put West in with a diamond and still receive a ruff or the defence will play a third round of trumps to cut your ruffs by one and leave you a trick short.       The best plan is to cash two top trumps and play a kind of dummy reversal after that, ruffing two hearts in hand.      You win HA, cash SAK, cash HK, cross to CQ, ruff a heart, cash CAK, ruff a club, ruff a heart and one of SJ7 will become your tenth trick.       Of course if the defence ruffs one of your heart or club winners with the SQ they can not stop you from making two heart ruffs in hand plus a club and diamond ruff in dummy to go with two top trumps and four tricks from CAKQ & HAK.

 

Hand for 14th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      A  6  4  3

                                                                  H      J  8  4

                                                                  D      A  K  8  3

                                                                  C      4   3

 

                                                  South:     S      K 10  9  8  7

                                                                  H      A   K 10 9

                                                                  D      Q   9  4

                                                                  C      A

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner cue-bids 3C to show a good spade raise, you bid 3H, partner bids 4D, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5H and you bid 6S.        West leads CK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 12th April 2021:

       The bidding tells you that West's lead is a singleton S2 so you have potentially a heart and a spade to lose.       You should plan to eliminate the clubs and throw either opponent in with the third round of hearts.        You win SA, overtake DQ with DK (drawing trumps), ruff a club, cross to HK, ruff CK in hand and play King and another heart.       If West wins the trick a heart or club lead allows you to throw a spade from dummy, ruff in hand, cash SK and eventually ruff two spades on the table.        If East wins the heart, a spade lead allows you to make SKJ otherwise you ruff a club or heart exit in dummy as above and claim.

 

Hand for 13th April 2021:

                                                  North:      S       A  J  7  2

                                                                   H       J  9  7  3

                                                                   D       Q  3

                                                                   C       Q 10 4

 

                                                  South:      S       K   9  4  3

                                                                   H        A  K

                                                                   D        9   4  2

                                                                   C        A  K  8  7

 

West opens a weak 2H passed round to your (strong) 2NT overcall.        Partner bids 3C (Puppet Stayman), you bid 3D to show at least one four card major, partner bids 4D to show both majors and you sign off with 4S.       West leads H6 (East following with H5).       Plan the play.

Analysis for 11th April 2021:

       The bidding and play so far tells you that West has DKQ & CAK and East presumably has HQJ for West's trump switch must be from two or three small.      Also it is likely but not certain that West has SQ as a 1NT opener with no stop in both majors is a very poor bid.      Trumps are thus likely to break 3-2 or 2-3 but West has shown 12hcp without the SQ and the spade break is uncertain even if West has SQ with a 3-3 break well against the odds.      Another plan is to hope that East has C10 so ruff the diamond at trick 3 and lead CJ (covered by West with CK) and ruff in dummy, cross back to SA and ruff a second club (drawing C10 from East).      Now all you have to do is cash SK (dropping West's doubleton SQ) and ruff a spade with H10, cash HK and lead from your two winning clubs until East ruffs in.      All you lose is a club, a diamond and a trump, thus making your contract exactly.

 

Hand for 12th April 2021:

                                                  North:       S       K  J  4

                                                                    H       K  9  4

                                                                    D       K  8  7  6  2

                                                                    C       K  7

 

                                                  South:       S       A   6  5  3

                                                                    H       A  10 8

                                                                    D       A  Q  J  10  4  3

                                                                    C       Void

 

Partner opens 1NT, East bids 2D Asptro (Spades and another), you double, West redoubles to deny spade support and asks for the second suit, East bids 3C, you jump to 4D, West bids 5C, partner bids 5D and you raise to 6D.

West leads S2.       Plan the play.

      There is a diamond to lose and so you cannot afford to lose two spades.        There is no point covering the diamond lead as East will switch to spades so you duck in both hands and ruff the diamond continuation.         You continue with drawing trumps in two rounds and cashing HAK ( no HJ appearing).        The best plan now is to cross to dummy with a trump and lead a heart and play H10 when East follows.        If the hearts are three-one after all West is then end-played and has to lead up to your spade tenace or give a ruff and discard when you throw a spade from one hand and ruff in the other.       If East discards on the low heart from dummy you play HK and H10 throwing West in when dummy discards a spade.        Either way you are home.

 

Hand for 11th April 2021:

                                                 North:       S       K 10  4  3  2

                                                                   H       A  6   5

                                                                   D      10  9   7  6

                                                                   C       Q

 

                                                  South:      S       A  J

                                                                   H       K  10  8  7  2

                                                                   D        5

                                                                   C        J   9   8  4  3 

 

West opens a weak 1NT, passed round to your 2H overcall.    Partner bids 2S, you bid 3C and partner jumps to 4H.      West cashes CA and switches to DK and D2 to East's DA.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 9th April 2021:

        You have a 40% chance that the clubs are 2-2 but two chances are better than one and you should test the heart split before playing clubs.       Win DA at trick 1, play a heart to HK, ruff a heart, ruff DK with S6 and ruff another heart.       If either opponent shows out you draw trumps in three rounds and play on clubs otherwise you draw trumps and throw two clubs on HK7, losing just one club at the end.

 

Hand for 10th April 2021:

                                                 North:       S      6  4  3

                                                                   H      9  7  6

                                                                   D      K  3

                                                                   C      A  Q 10  7  6

 

                                                 South:       S      A  Q   7

                                                                   H      A   K  Q 10

                                                                   D      5

                                                                   C      K   J   9   3  2

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1D, partner bids 3C, East bids 3D, you double and partner jumps to 5C.    West leads DQ.  Plan the play. 

Analysis for 31st March 2021:

    The contract needs a bit of luck but there is no point in discarding on the second trick so you ruff.       The bidding tells you that since East has HK tehnWest surely holds both minor suit Aces.        Therefore if you draw trumps you will lose control and never make a club trick.      However you should draw two rounds of trumps and then when trumps are 3-2 you knock out DA.       Now the defence cannot gain by forcing you with a heart as you can ruff in hand throwing a club from dummy and lead up to CK,       If the defence can get a diamond ruff you will go down but on the actual distribution as long as you are careful to win the third round of diamonds in hand and lead CJ.      West cannot duck - you are playing for West to hold CAQ - and if CJ is covered with CQ you draw the last trump and run C8 to West's CA and thus make C10 for your contract.

I am on holiday for a week over Easter.

Hand for 9th April 2021:

                                               North:      S      6  4

                                                                H     A  K  7  5  3

                                                                D     6

                                                                C     A  10 9  7  6

 

                                               South:      S     A  K  Q  J 10 9

                                                                H     6

                                                                D     A  K

                                                                C      8  4  3  2

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2D, partner bids 2H, you jump to 3S, partner bids 4C and you sign off in 4S.

West leads DQ.        Plan the play.  

Analysis for 30th March 2021:

       On the bidding the diamonds are 7-1 so you should be careful to insure against bad breaks.      When you win SQ at trick 2 you know West has five cards combined in hearts and clubs.      You next cash SQ.     (a) If West shows out then East has at least two hearts as West cannot have more than five cards and so you cash HK.       If West shows out you can safely cash HJ, cross to SK, cash HAQ (discarding C34), ruff a diamond (overruffing if necessary) and cash winning spades and clubs.       If West follows to HK, at most four clubs are held so you cash HJ, CAK, ruff a club (high) with SK, cash HA throwing a club, ruff a diamond and cash trumps and CQ.       (b) If West follows to two spades you cash SA10 drawing trumps.       (i) If West has two spades precisely South cashes HK & CA  and if West follows to both running all the trumps will squeeze East in clubs and hearts and if CKQ does not promote C4 into a trick then HAQ5 will win the last three tricks.       If West shows out on HA then running all the trumps and HJ to HA and HQ squeezes West in diamonds and clubs and if D8 has not been promoted then CAKQ4 are tricks.       If West shows out on CA then running all the trumps and CKQ squeezes West in the red suits and if D8 is not good then HAQ5 will win the last three tricks.  (ii) If West has three or four spades running the rest of the trumps  East is squeezed in hearts and clubs and if C4 is not good the HAQ5 will win the last three tricks.

 

Hand for 31st March 2020:

                                                  North:      S      A  Q  9  8

                                                                   H      6  4

                                                                   D      K  9  8  5

                                                                   C      K  8  7

 

                                                  South:      S      K  J 10  5

                                                                   H       3

                                                                   D      Q  J  10  6

                                                                   C      J  10  4   2

 

West opens 1H, partner makes a take-out double, East raises to 2H, you bid 2S, West bids 4H and partner bids 4S.

West leads HA and continues with H5 to East's HK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 29th March 2021:

        To make your contract you need to avoid losing a spade, two diamonds and a club unless West has precisely King doubleton in clubs.      The bidding places West with CK, DA and probably SQJ so you should aim for an end play.       Although you can play three rounds of spades if West has SQJ10 you would not succeed if Eaast has S10 so the best play is to duck SQ at trick 1, win the spade continuation, draw trumps in three rounds, finesse CJ, cash the second top spade and play CA and another - losing CQ to CK unless CA has dropped a doubleton CK.      West then has to give you a trick with DK or lead a black suit which allows you to ruff in dummy and discard D5 and so all you lose is one trick in each of the three side-suits.

 

Hand for 30th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S      K  3   2

                                                                    H      A  Q  5  4

                                                                    D      8   6  3  2

                                                                    C      6   5

 

                                                  South:       S     A   Q  J  10  8

                                                                    H     K   J

                                                                    D     5

                                                                    C     A   K  Q   4   3

 

You open a Benji 2C, West overcalls 5D, you bid 5S after two passes and partner raises to 6S.       

West leads DK and /East overtakes with DA and exits with S5.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 28th March 2021:

       Your contract appears to be viable only on a helpful trump break - unlikely on the bidding - but as you have escaped a heart lead you have a second string to your bow!      You win the DK lead with DA (discarding a heart) and you must then crucially ruff a diamond at trick 2 before cashing  SAK (West discarding a heart on the seecond trump).      The bidding tells you that West has at most two clubs and so you can cash CAKQJ, discarding HQ on the fourth round as East has to follow to four rounds.      Now you ruff a heart, ruff a diamond, ruff a second heart and now lead a diamond off the table in order to make your last (losing) trump en passant - if East ruffs with SQ you ditch HK and your S7 is now the boss trump otherwise you ruff in with S7.

 

Hand for 29th March 2021:

                                                     North:       S       A  K  6

                                                                       H      K   J  8  4

                                                                       D      10  3  2

                                                                       C       A  J   4

                                                     South:       S       9  7   2

                                                                       H       A  Q 10  6  3

                                                                       D       K  5

                                                                       C       Q  8  2

 

West opens 1D, partner makes a take-out double, you jump to 3H and partner raises to game with 4H.

West leads SQ.        Plan the play.   

Analysis for 27th March 2021:

You overruff H8 with H9 - East did not want to give up the fourth round of either minor - and cash two more top more trumps (West throwing a spade).      There is no certain way home but the odds favour the diamond honours being split with both East and West holding one each.      You cash CAK and exit with a third club and whoever wins the trick will have to open the diamond suit hopefully to your advantage or give a ruff-and-discard.       Note that a good defender holding DQJx will try and arrange for partner to be on lead by unblocking CQ if necessary so if a diamond honour is led by the opposition you should cover it and finesse against the other defender.

 

Hand for 28th March 2021:

                                                    North:      S      J  8  6  4

                                                                     H     Q

                                                                     D      A  9  8  4  3

                                                                     C      9   7  5

 

                                                    South:      S      A  K  7  3  2

                                                                     H      K  8   7  4

                                                                     D      Void

                                                                     C      A  K  Q  J

You open 1S, West overcalls 2S (Michaels' Cue Bid showing 5H & 5minor), partner bids 3S and you jump to 6S.

West leads DK.       Plan the play.  

Analysis for 26th March 2021:

       You cannot hope to make the contract is spades are 5-1 or if trumps don't break 3/2.        Therefore the best line is to win the second trump, cash SK, lead HQ and overtake HK with HA as you may need two entries in hearts to be able to set up the spade side-suit.        If the spades break 3-3 when you now ruff a spade you are home as you can then win HQ, ruff a heart , ruff a diamond and draw the last outstanding trump with CK and cash winning spades.        However, when spades prove to be 4-2, you have to risk a heart to the H10, ruff a spade, ruff a diamond, draw the last trump and cash winning spades and HQ.

 

Hand for 27th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S     10  5  2

                                                                    H      J  10 4  2

                                                                    D      A   9  6

                                                                    C      6   3  2

 

                                                   South:     S       8   3

                                                                   H       A  K  Q  9  6

                                                                   D       K 10  5

                                                                   C       A  K   5

 

West opens 1S, passed round to your take-out double, West rebids 2S, you bid 3H and partner raises to 4H.

West leads three top spades (East ruffing the third with H8).        Plan the play.

Analysis for 25th March 2021:

        You ruff the second club and draw trumps in two rounds with HAK (East throwing a club).       The DA is likely to be wrong on the bidding but you can avoid the probable losing diamond position by now cashing  SAK and leading C10, discarding your last spade from hand if East cannot play CQ.       West is end-played and has the choice of giving you a ruff-and-discard in clubs or leading a diamond ensuring your DK becomes a trick.      Otherwise, if able to lead a spade , you just ruff SQ or cover West's card settinng up the thirteenth spade for a diamond discard from hand.       If East is able to cover C10 with CQ you ruff and lead a spade hoping that West has SQ in which case SJ provides a discard for D10.

 

Hand for 26th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S      K

                                                                    H      K  6

                                                                    D      K  Q  8  6  4  2

                                                                    C       9  8  5  2

 

                                                   South:      S      A  8   7  6  5  4 

                                                                    H      A  Q 10

                                                                    D      Void

                                                                    C      K  Q  J  4

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2D, partner bids a natural 2NT, you rebid 3C, partner bids 5C and you raise to 6C.

West cashes CA and exits with C6 to East's C10 and your CJ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 24th March 2021:

 (a)      West has shown 5/5 minors but would  not lead a spade unless holding 1-1-5/6 shape.       With spades unlikely to be breaking it is important to play on spades before wasting HA entry to dummy.       So you win SA and play a second spade.      West is welcome to ruff in but cannot exit safely.       As a club runs to your CAQ West will probably try a top diamond which you ruff small in dummy and throw a club from hand, ruff a spade, cross to HA, ruff the spades good and enter dummy with HK to cash a spade throwing CQ.      If West discards you ruff a spade not caring id West overruffs or not as you can win the exit, cross to HK, ruff the spades good and cross to HA to cash set-up spades.

(b)      If West was 0-1-6-6 shape or similar a diamond lead would be more likely so you should play for the 1-1-6/5 spade and duck the first trick.       Then you can set up the spade suit if 4-1 as you still have HAK & SK entries to dummy in order to ruff spade twice and return to dummy to cash two winning spades and throw CQ3.

Hand for 25th March 2021:

                                                  North:      S      K  J  8  3

                                                                   H      A  J  6

                                                                   D      9  7  5

                                                                   C     10 4  3

                                                  South:      S      A  8  3

                                                                   H      K Q 10 8  7  5  4

                                                                   D      K 10

                                                                   C      J

You open 1H, West overcalls 2C, parner doubles for take-out, East bids 3C, you bid 3H and partner raises to 4H.

West cashes CA and continues with CK.       Plan the play.

 
Analysis for 23rd March 2021:

         The hands do not fit very well and you have overbid your hand but the failure of West to cash a second club and the trumps being 2-2 is a bonus.        You should cash CA, cross to HJ and cash CK discarding dummy's last diamond.       West is marked with SA & DAK to justify the opening 1S bid but may not have SQ & DQ.        Also if you lead a spade and SJ were to win you are no better off being stuck in dummy so instead you should lead a spade and win dummy's SK.        You continue with a second spade to your S9 and West's S10 hoping for a favourable spade break.        West will exit with a low diamond as a spade would set up dummy's side-suit.       Therefore you ruff on the table and lead a third spade and when East discards on this you know the spades are unfortunately 4-2 so you discard your last club instead of ruffing.        However, West is now end-played as you can either (a) ruff SA with H10 setting up dummy's fifth spade or (b) ruff DK in dummy setting up your DJ in hand with a spade ruff as entry.

 

Hand for 24th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S      K  8  6  4  3  2

                                                                    H      A  K  3  2

                                                                    D      Void

                                                                    C       6  5  4

                                                    South:     S       A  5

                                                                    H       J 10  9  8  7  6  5  4

                                                                    D       Void

                                                                    C       A  Q  3

 

You open 1H, West bids 2NT (Unusual showing 5/5+ minors), partner bids 4H, East bids 5D, you bid 5H, East bids 6D and you bid 6H.      Plan the play  if West leads (a) SJ (b) HQ.

Analysis for 22nd March 2021:

       West leads CJ and East discards a diamond and another diamond on SA.       This play to these two tricks confirms that diamonds are Nil - 9 and you have scant prospect of a diamond trick by straightforward play and a heart loser to dispose of as well.      The only chance is a squeeze "without the count" as you have no opportunity to lose an early trick to set up the normal simple squeeze position.       Therefore you run all of your trumps throwing a heart and a diamond from dummy  but on the last trump West has to keep four clubs and thus must come down to two hearts only.       Dummy discards a club on the last trump and now two top clubs puts East under pressure and to keep three hearts has to bare DA.        The coup-de-gras now is to throw a heart from hand and exit with DK setting up D8 which with HAK adds up to twelve tricks.        If East comes down to DAQ then you make HKA5 for the last three tricks.

Hand for 23rd March 2021:

                                                    North:      S      K  J  8  3  2

                                                                     H      A  K  8  3  2

                                                                     D      3   2

                                                                     C      A

 

                                                    South:      S      9   7

                                                                     H      J  10  9  4

                                                                     D      J    7  6  4

                                                                     C      K   J   2

 

West opens 1D, partner bids 2D (Michaels' Cue-Bid showing 5/5+ both majors), you bid 2H, partner invites game with 3H and you bid the 4H game.        West leads DA (East playing D4) and luckily switches to H7 when two top trumps finds East starting with HQ5.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st March 2021:

      The bidding and play to the first trick suggests West has SK and thus East has the remaining hcp including HK & CK to make up the opening bid.      As is likely, when both opponents have bid on minimal combined values, the diamond switch screams of a singleton.        The expected defence seems obvious for East to win HK, put West in with SK and receive a diamond return which East ruffs to defeat the contract.      Your only play is therefore to cash HA, cross to CA and lead CQ (discarding your last spade) as East wins CK.      This manouvre was called a "Scissors Coup" by the late Terence Reese because it snipped the defenders' communications.       You have swapped your spade loser for a club loser and thus deprived West of dangerously obtaining the lead.      However, East cannot then stop you from drawing the outstanding trumps as soon as you regain the lead and all you lose is one trump, one spade and one club.

 

Hand for 22nd March 2021:

                                                    North:      S       K  6  2

                                                                     H       A  7  6

                                                                     D       K  9

                                                                     C       A  K  Q  4  3

 

                                                    South:      S       A  Q  J  10 8  7

                                                                     H       K   5  2

                                                                     D        8   6

                                                                     C        6   2

 

Partner opens 1C, East pre-empts 5D, you bid 5S and partner raised to 6S.       West leads CJ and East suprisingly discards a diamond on both CA at trick 1 and SA at trick 2.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 20th March 2021:

       The bidding tells you that East probably has six hearts to QJ10 as West would lead a singleton and probably the missing DQ as well to make up a vulnerable bid.       That makes the contract nigh on foolproof.       You win CA, cash SAK (noting West has four spades), then SQ, HA, DA.        If the DA is ruffed then whoever ruffs it is end-played and has to put you on table to cash CKQ & HK on which you discard your losing three diamonds.        If DA is not ruffed and diamonds are 5-Nil you exit with S3 and hope the winner of the trick is the opponent with the void.       Otherwise you draw the outstanding trump and exit with a low diamond and whoever wins it will be end-played if the diamonds are 4-1 or if the diamonds are 3/2 the suit will now run by cashing DK.

 

Hand for 21st March 2021:

                                                   North:      S       7   4

                                                                    H       A   9  5  3

                                                                    D       A   J  9  8

                                                                    C       A   Q  2

 

                                                   South:      S       J   5

                                                                    H       Q  J  10  8  6

                                                                    D       K  Q   6   3  2

                                                                    C       5

 

East opens 1S, you overcall 2H, West bids 2S, partner cue-bids 3S and you sign off with 4H.       West leads S3 and East wins SA and exits with D7.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th March 2021:

        The contract is in danger of losing the Ace of trumps and two hearts if the diamond finesse is wrong as the defence is bound to play hearts as soon as then win a trick.      Therefore the best plan is to win HA at trick one and immediately lead DJ.        Occasionally you will slip the DJ through West's DK.          However, whereever the DK happens to be on the likely break of the diamonds (4-4 or 5/3) you will be able to win the heart exit with dummy's HA and cash DAQ discarding a heart from dummy and then belatedly switch to a trump to force out DA.       All you lose is one trick in each suit (ruffing the third spade high in dummy) thus making your nine-trick contract on the button.

 

Hand for 20th March 2021:

                                                     North:      S      5  2

                                                                      H     K  8  6  4

                                                                      D      4  3  2

                                                                      C     K  Q  3  2

 

                                                     South:      S     A  K  Q  J  10  3

                                                                      H     A

                                                                      D     A   K  J  6   5

                                                                      C     A

 

East opens a weak 2H, you double for take-out, partner bids 2NT and you settle for 6S.        West leads CK.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th March 2021:

        The contract looks good with four expected diamonds, two spades (at least), a heart and two clubs but you need to be careful.       If you play low on the first trick, East can win with SK, switch to a heart and a heart return although it gives you two tricks in hearts it forces out your HA entry for your diamond winners after you have forced out East's DK.      Similary it does no good to win SA and force out DK as a heart switch may also be damaging on a different lie of the cards.       The solution to both these problems is to play SQ at trick 1.     If ducked, you can knock out DK with HA as entry to endure nine tricks and if East wins SK and the defence knock out HA you just knock out DK with SJ as entry back for the remaining winning diamonds.

 

Hand for 19th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S     10  6  5

                                                                    H      A  8   3

                                                                    D      3   2

                                                                    C      Q 10  9  3  2

 

                                                   South:      S      A   2

                                                                    H      7   4  2

                                                                    D      A  Q  J

                                                                    C      K  J   7  3  2

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner raises to 2C, East bids 2S, you double for take-out and partner bids 3C.

West leads SK.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 17th March 2021:

      Declarer should ruff the club lead and cash DA.       When both opponents follow small, the contract will have no chance if East has the remaining DQ106.        Therefore, you should now cash DK and you would be able to claim if the trumps are 3-2.  However, you still have good chances when West turns up with DQ106 as long as West holds at least two hearts and two spades.       You cash HAK & SKA and ruff a club and then run spades.      (a) If West ruffs with DQ and forces you with a club you cross to DJ (drawing the outstanding D10) and cross to HJ to run the rest of the spade suit.      (b) If West ruffs low you overruff, cross to HJ and run spades until DQ is taken and ruff a club back to hand to continue spades.      (c) If West discards on the first two spades you throw HA, a club and are left with S10, HJ & D9.       West is left with CK and DQ10 and cannot win more than one trick as dummy has CQ, DJ and H7.      If CK is thrown on SJ then leading HJ allow DJ to be made en-passant.  Otherwise if D10 is played you overruff with DJ and ruff a club for your twelfth trick and if W ruffs high you discard CQ and either make your trumps seperately or win DJ and HJ at the end.

 

Hand for 18th March 2021:

                                                    North:      S      A   Q   3

                                                                     H      J  10   4

                                                                     D      Q   2

                                                                     C      A   K   8   6   4

 

                                                    South:      S       J   6

                                                                     H       A   6   3

                                                                     D       A   J  10  9  8

                                                                     C       9   5   2

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1D, you bid a natural 2NT and partner raises to game with 3NT.       West leads S5.

Plan the play.

 

 

Analysis for 16th March 2021:

          The contract is secure if the trumps break 3-2 so you should consider how the play formulates if the trumps are 4-1 (a 1 in 4 chance).       In this case you cannot draw three rounds as the defnce can then take out your 4th trump in both hands and cash club winners.       Although you are afraid of the HK being ruffed the key to the hand is to win HA at trick 1.        Then SAK gives you the news that West started with four trumps.        West's shape is thus likely 4-1-4-4 or 4-1-3-5 or 4-1-5-3 and all you need to do then is cash AKQJ and cross to SQ to cash DA discarding a heart from dummy.         Now lead HA and whether West ruffs in or not you can ruff a heart on the table for your tenth trick.       All you lose is two clubs and a trump.        If you win HK in hand at trick 1 you cannot afford to draw three rounds of trumps as you have no entry back to hand to cash DA and can lose two clubs and two heart ruffs.

 

Hand for 17th Match 2021:

                                                   North:       S      A   8

                                                                     H      A   7  5  2

                                                                     D      J   7  2

                                                                     C      Q   8  6  4

 

                                                    South:      S      K  Q  J  10  7

                                                                     H      K  Q  J

                                                                     D      A   K  9   4   3

                                                                     C      Void

 

You open 2C Benji, West doubles to show clubs, you rebid 2S after two passes, partner bids 2NT, you bid 3D, partner bids 3H, you bid 4D, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5H and partner bids 6D.    West leads CA.     Plan the play. 

 

Analysis for 15th March 2021:

      You have several options in playing this hand but there is one that stands out.       With East likely to have four spades headed by SA for the take-out double rather than five spades when West would probably have led a singleton spade and East would have overcalled, you should win HQ, cross to DA and lead S4 from dummy.       West probably will play S9 otherwise you have two spade tricks to add to four heart tricks, one diamond, one club and two club ruffs in dummy and so you probably need trumps to break 3-2.       However, with one spade trick in the bag you should change tack and now play on a cross-ruff, cashing CA and then ruffing three clubs in dummy and three diamonds in hand (the third round of both being with a high trump).

Hand for 16th March 2021:

                                                  North:      S      9   8   6   3

                                                                   H      A  8   2

                                                                   D      K  Q  J

                                                                   C      J  10  8

 

                                                  South:      S      A   K  Q   7

                                                                   H      K   5   4

                                                                   D      A   6   4  3

                                                                   C      9   2

 

East opens a weak 2H, you bid 2NT, partner bids 3C (Puppet Stayman), you respond 3D (4 card major(s) but no 5 card major), partner bids 3H (showing 4S) and you jump to 4S.        West leads H3 (an obvious singleton).       Plan the play.                                                            

Analysis for 14th March 2021:

       You will have to play well to justify partner's faith shown in you by the optimistic jump to the small slam.        The bidding places West with both minor suit kings but you are still in danger of losing a diamond and a club.       You should aim to put pressure on West and the first thing to do is to ditch a diamond from hand at trick 1 in the hope that West can be squeezed in hearts and clubs, known as "rectifying the count" where you end up one top trick short of the hoped successful outcome.       West can do no better than continue with HK which you ruff and draw the outstanding trump.       Now you cross to SJ and ruff a third round of hearts (East discarding a club) meaning East cannot beat H6 in dummy and cash all your trumps discarding a club and a diamond from dummy counting all the hearts West has shown or discarded so far, knowing that seven hearts were originally held.  You now hold D65 & CAQ with dummy holding DAQ, H6 & C8.       A diamond finesse now followed by the top diamond forces West to either throw the only heart left to beat H6 or bare CK and you either cash H6 & CA or CAQ dropping the now singleton CK.       Note any attempt to throw West in with the third round of diamonds after ruffing trick 1 can be twarted by West playing DJK on the first two rounds of diamonds.

Hand for 15th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S     K  10  4

                                                                    H     A   J   9   6

                                                                    D     A  Q  10  8  6

                                                                    C     7

 

                                                   South:      S     Q   8   7   2

                                                                    H     K   Q   3   2

                                                                    D     Void

                                                                    C      A   6   4   3   2

 

You open 1C, partner responds 1D and East doubles for take-out, you rebid 1H and partner raises to game with 4H.

West leads H10.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 13th March 2021:

       The best plan is to ruff the opening club lead and run HJ.        It is not right to ruff a second club as if you lose to HQ singleton the defence can cash a club.        If HJ loses to HQ singleton then West cannot lead a trump and you can ruff a second club assuming the spades are 3-2.        When HJ wins you lead a trump to H9 and draw trumps, throwing two clubs on the 4th and 5th spade and just conceding your last club.

 

Hand for 14th March 2021:

                                                  North:      S      J  6  5  2

                                                                   H      6  5  4  2

                                                                   D      A Q  7

                                                                   C      8  5

 

                                                  South:      S      A  K  Q  10  9  8  4  3

                                                                   H      Void

                                                                   D      6   5   3

                                                                   C      A  Q

 

West opens a Benji 2C, East responds a negative 2D and you bid 4S, West bids 5H and partner jumps to 6S.

West leads HA.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 12th March 2021:

       With two clubs already lost and an unavoidable diamond loser you must avoid a trump loser.       It does no good to ruff with SQ or SK and cash SA, cross to HJ and cash the other top honour because the only way that play wins is if West has SJ9 doubleton, a very low percentage chance.       Similarly it does no good ruffing with S8 playing for East to hold SJ9xx.        In this case, you will lose a trick to SJ as East is likely to be short in both hearts and diamonds (having six clubs) so you are unlikely to be able to pull off a trump coup.       The best plan is thus the simplest - ruff with S10 and hope East has SJxx precisely and so you can draw all the outstanding trumps via SA, HJ & cashing SKQ.

 

Hand for 13th March 2021:

                                                   North:      S      Q 10  7  6  2

                                                                    H      J   6  5

                                                                    D      A   9  8  4  3

                                                                    C      Void

 

                                                   South:      S      A  K  8

                                                                    H      A  K 10  9  4

                                                                    D      Void

                                                                    C      Q  9   8  7  4

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner makes a take-out double, East passes, you jump to 4C, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5S bids 6H.       West leads CJ.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 11th March 2021:

               If three rounds of spades stand up you could cross ruff your way home but the bidding (East showing up with six or seven diamonds) suggests that the third round of spades might get ruffed and put you down.      It is a better plan to try and ruff three hearts in the dummy and use South's strong holding to draw the outstanding trumps.       So win DA, cross to HA, ruff a heart with CK, cross to SJ, ruff a heart with CQ, lead SQ to SK, ruff a heart with C10, lead C5 to C8, draw trumps with CAJ9 and cash the fifth heart if the hearts break 4-3 otherwise cash SA for twelve tricks but claim an overtrick if the hearts break.

 

Hand for 12th March 2021:

                                                    North:      S      A

                                                                     H      A  Q   7  2

                                                                     D      K  Q   5  4

                                                                     C      9   5   3   2

 

                                                    South:      S      K  Q  10  8  4  2

                                                                     H      K   J   3

                                                                     D      10  8

                                                                     C       7   4

You open 1S, partner bids 2D, East overcalls 3C, you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.         West leads CQ.        East overtakes and cashes CA (West discarding a diamond) and follows with CJ.        Plan the play.    

Analysis for 10th March 2021:

        You cannot afford to lose two spades, a diamond and a club.      The bidding tells you that East has all three missing Aces and probably SJ10 as well for the play at trick 2.       Also East probably has at least four cards in both spades and diamonds and is likely to be short in hearts for the take-out double.      Therefore the best plan is to cash one top trump and DK and exit with a club to dummy's CJ and East's CA.      This fortunately end-plays East who cannot lead a spade without setting up dummy's SK.        Alternatively a diamond gives a ruff and discard and you ruff in dummy and ditch a spade or a club instead allows you to discard two spades on CKQ.

Hand for 11th March 2021:

                                                  North:      S      A  Q  5

                                                                   H      3

                                                                   D      A  J   8   5   3

                                                                   C      K  Q 10  5

           

                                                  South:      S      K   J  7

                                                                   H      A   J 10  5  2

                                                                   D      9

                                                                   C      A   J  9  8

 

East opens a weak 2D, you bid 2H, partner jumps to 3NT, you bid 4C and partner raises to 6C.

West leads D4.       Plan the  play.

Analysis for 9th March 2021:

          With two diamonds already lost you cannot afford to lose a heart and a club.       If West has HKx alone or East has CK you have no problems and if the hearts are 3-3 you don't need the club finesse.        The way to combine these chances is to ruff the third diamond, cash SA, cross to SQ (drawing the outstanding trump) and lead a low heart from dummy.       This gives you a chance to check on the hearts being 3-3 before relying on the club finesse.         Were East to play small on the first heart you normally lose HQ to HK but whether HQ holds or not you get the chance to play three rounds of hearts and thus find out if you need the CK to be with East.        When East wins HK and switches to a club you win CA and cash HAJ, cross to SK and discard a club from dummy on HQ.        If East bravely ducks you make HQ, HA and HJ and only lose a club.

Hand for 10th March 2021:

                                                    North:      S      K   Q   9

                                                                     H      6    2

                                                                     D      7    6

                                                                     C      K   Q   J  8  6  5

 

                                                    South:      S       5   4   3

                                                                     H       A   K  Q  J  10  9  8

                                                                     D       K   Q

                                                                     C       9

 

You open 1H, partner bids 2C, East makes a take-out double and you jump to 4H.       West leads DJ to East's DA and East exits with SJ.       Plan the play.     

Analysis for 8th March 2021:

          West has led CK rather than partner's suit and would surely have led a singleton diamond unless bare Ace was held so it is not routine to draw trumps and lead a diamond towards DKxx.        The best plan is to draw trumps in two rounds with SAQ, cash HA and ruff a heart to give you a Plan B which is set up your heart side-suit if breaking normally (4/3).         If East follows to the third heart you discard three diamons on HKQ5.         However, when you cross to SJ and cash HK you throw a club when East shows out meaning the clubs are 5-2.        Your last club disappears on HQ and you lead a diamond hoping East has DA after all and you end up ruffing a club in hand and a diamond in dummy to fulfil your contract with six trumps in hand, three top hearts, DK, CA and a club ruff in dummy.

Hand for 9th March 2021:

                                                North:      S       Q  10  8  6  4

                                                                 H       A   J   2

                                                                 D       4   3   2

                                                                 C       6   4

 

                                                South:      S       A   K  J  9  3

                                                                 H       Q   6   4  3

                                                                 D        9   5

                                                                 C        A   Q

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2D, partner raises to 2S, East competes with 3D, you bid 3H and partner jumps to 4S.

West leads off three top diamonds.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 7th March 2021:

          With only five tricks on top you need to generate four extra tricks from clubs and/or diamonds.       If the clubs are 2-2 you have five tricks there after forcing out CA  but even if you make three diamond tricks after forcing out DAK you still need one club trick.      You should be warned of the possibility of bad breaks when West has shown six or seven spades.       It is essential therefore to lead CQ at trick 2 after winning the spade lead.        This is to allow for clubs 4-Nil because if East wins CA (then holding a fourth round club stop) and switches to a heart you win HK and duck a club in both hands so you have CKJ76 as winners with C4 available to cross to dummy.       If instead East ducks CQ you switch to DQ and you have the tempo to win the defence's exit and force out the second diamond top honour, making three spades, two hearts, three diamonds and a club for your contract.

Hand for 8th March 2021:

                                                North:      S      K  J   9  6

                                                                 H      A  K  Q  5  4

                                                                 D      6   4

                                                                 C      5   2

 

                                                 South:     S      A  Q  10  8  5  3

                                                                 H      3

                                                                 D      K   8   3

                                                                 C      A   9   4

 

East pre-empts 3D, you jump to 4S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and raises your 5S to 6S.       West leads CK (East following with C3).         Plan the play.

Analysis for 6th March 2021:

           Although it is tempting to rely on one of the black kings being finessable.         However West has not led a club against your slam which would surely have been done unless CK was held and a spade lead is not likely from a weak spade holding including SK.      Therefore, it is best to play for the diamond suit to break   3-3 or 4-2 so you can set up the fifth diamond for a club discard.      To accomplish this you need to duck the first spade and win East's club exit with CA, cash HA & DK, cross to DA, ruff a diamond high with HK, cross to HQ, ruff a diamond high with HJ, draw the outstanding trump with H10, cross to SA and discard CQ on D8.       All you lose is the spade at trick 1.

 

Hand for 7th March 2021:

                                                North:      S      5   4

                                                                 H      8   6   3

                                                                 D      7   6                                                                                                                                                                                       C      K   J   7  6  5  3

           

                                                South:      S      A   K  Q 

                                                                 H      A   K

                                                                 D      Q   J  10  9  8

                                                                 C      Q   4   2

 

West opens a weak 2S, you double and bid 3NT over partner's 3C response.        West leads SJ.      Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 5th March 2021:

         You should always consider how the play will develop on a bad trump break.       If you have an eight card fit then the chances of but a 4-1 break are only 1 in 4 but when you only have seven trumps it is slightly odds on for a 4-2 break so you should worry about losing control and play accordingly.       On today's hand you can afford to lose a diamond and two trumps and so the way to handle the hand is to win the lead with CA, cash HAK (both opponents following small) and play on your side suit leading a diamond to D10, not caring if a top diamond gets ruffed.        Whether you lose a ruff or not you force out DA (playing DJ under your DK to ensure that the defence cannot strand you in dummy).         If the defence ruff and force you to ruff a club you stay off trumps and force out DA (if necessary) and you will be a step ahead of the defence playing diamonds until the opposition take two diamond ruffs.

Hand for 6th March 2021:

                                                 North:     S      A  Q  10  3

                                                                 H      Q  3

                                                                 D      A  8    7   6   5 

                                                                 C      3   2

 

                                                 South:     S      8   2

                                                                  H     A   K  J  10  9  5   4

                                                                  D     K   2

                                                                  C     A   Q

Partner opens 1D, East overcalls 2C, you bid 2H, partner bids 2S, you force with 3C, partner bids 3H, you bid 4NT (RKCB), and bid 6H over partner's response of 5S (2 of 5 Aces + HQ).        West leads S5.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 4th March 2021:

         The contract looks good but in order to score up the slam bonus you need to play carefully for twelve tricks.        Only a 5-nil diamond break or 4-nil trump break will prove troublesome but which is more likely?       Obviously the latter.       In this case, you need to ruff two clubs in hand so if trumps are 4-Nil you need to keep dummy's trump length intact.        The safest way to allow for this situation is to ruff the opening lead high with HK and play HA (East discarding a club) followed by HJ.               West can win HQ and switch to a singleton diamond but you win DA, ruff a club with H10, and lead H7 to dummy's H98 to draw West's outstanding trumps before cashing 4 diamonds and two spades (discarding C8).        Alternatively, if West exits with a trump you win H8 in dummy, ruff a club with H10, cross to dummy's DA and draw the fourth round of trumps with H9 before cashing your winners for twelve tricks.

Hand for 5th March 2021:

                                                  North:       S       A  K  9  5  3

                                                                    H       7  6

                                                                    D       J 10

                                                                    C       A   5  4  2

 

                                                  South:       S       8   2

                                                                    H       A   K  J  10  3

                                                                    D       K   Q  9   8   4

                                                                    C       J

You open 1H, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 2S, you bid 3D, partner bids 3H, you bid 4D & partner signs off in 4H.

West leads CK.     Plan the play.

Analysis for 3rd March 2021:

          The contract looks secure - just losing one heart, one club and at most one trump.        However the C9 - although it looks like a doubleton - may well be a singleton since East has bid at the three level and may have six cards rather than the promised five.        It is essential therefore not to win CK at trick 1 in order to take the trump finesse.        Instead you should  win the lead in hand with CA, cash DAK, ruff a diamond high with SQ and then run SJ.        When West wins SK and leads a heart to East's HA, East can lead a club for West to ruff  but now the defence is ruffing a loser rather than CA and you haven't jeopardised the contract by trying the trump finesse.

Hand for 4th March 2021:

                                                North:      S      7

                                                                 H      9   8  4   2

                                                                 D      A  K  Q  J  6

                                                                 C      8   6  3

 

                                                 South:     S      A  K  9   6  2

                                                                 H      A  K  J  10 7

                                                                 D      9   7  4

                                                                 C      Void

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 2D. you jump to 3H, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5C response jumps to 6H.        West leads CK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 2nd March 2021:

         The key to this hand is to think ahead and plan how the play will progress.      East has shown at least seven diamonds for the vulnerable pre-empt and so a bad trump break and/or heart break is not unexpected.      If you take a trump finesse or cash SA and East shows out, you can unblock CQ and test hearts.        However, if they break badly whoever ruffs the second heart will be able to exit in diamonds and you will be unable to reach dummy again and without the hearts being set up you will go down.      The simple solution to overcome this problem is to ruff your losing diamond at trick 2 before cashing SA getting the bad news.     Then you unblock CQ and play two top hearts.    West can ruff in but you have now denied the defence an easy diamond exit.      A club allows you to discard H73 on CAK or a diamond or a trump allow you to win S10 in hand in order to discard two hearts on CAK.      Otherwise, if West discards, you continue with HQ followed by a fourth heart ruffing with S10.        If West overruffs dummy is set up to be able to draw trumps with SKJ and cash the winning H7.         If West discards again you finesse SJ, cash SA and play H7.

Hand for 3rd March 2021:

                                                 North:      S      Q  J  9  7

                                                                  H      9   8  5  3

                                                                  D      4   2

                                                                  C      K   6  4

 

                                                 South:      S      A  10  6  3  2

                                                                  H      K   Q

                                                                  D      A   K   8

                                                                  C      A   7   5

 

You open 1S, partner raises to 2S, East butts in with 3C and you settle for the 4S game.       West leads C9.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 1st March 2021:

         With two hearts and four clubs on top after the lead, the contract seems easy and if diamonds break normally you will score overtrick(s).       However, with SAJ, HK & DA placed with East for the 1NT opening you can play safely for your contract with careful avoidance plays.       You win HA over HQ & HK at trick 1, cross to CJ and lead D3 from dummy.       East has to play low because rising with DA - beating nothing - gives you four diamond trick with DKQJ9.      You then cross to CQ and lead a low spade from dummy.       Once again, East has to play S9 rather than SA as rising with SA gives you three spade tricks with SKQ10.         When SK wins, playing a second diamond from hand sets you up your ninth trick in diamonds. and your contract is fulfilled.

Hand for 2nd March 2021:

                                                  North:       S       A  K  J  5  4  3

                                                                    H       A  K Q  7  3

                                                                    D       8

                                                                    C       Q

                                                  South:       S       10 6  2

                                                                     H       5  4  2

                                                                     D       A  5

                                                                     C       A  K  7  6  4

East pre-empts 3D, passed round to partner who cue-bids 4D, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 3C and you jump to 6S.        West leads D4 to dummy's DA (If you play SA  West discards D2.)         Plan the play.

Analysis for 28th February 2021:

          You have to find a discard on the fourth spade trick from the defence in both dummy and hand.       With the HK marked with East from the bidding you need to find an extra trick too go with two hearts, 3 diamonds and 3 top clubs.      All be well if the CJ drops in 3 rounds but there is a chance that either opponent has four clubs.         The key play is to discard a heart from hand amd a diamond from dummy.         You win East's diamond exit with DJ, finesse HQ and test the clubs with CK and CA.     When East unexpectedly turns up with four you cash DAQ (discarding C10 from dummy)  and East is caught in what is known as a criss-cross squeeze.       If East keeps CJ9 then HK is bare and you simply cash HA, CQ and HJ for nine tricks.       Otherwise, you simply cash CQ and return to HA to cash C6 for nine tricks and your precarious contract.

Hand for 1st March 2021:

                                                N orth:       S      Q  10  4  3

                                                                   H      Q

                                                                   D      Q   J   9  6  3

                                                                   C      Q   J   6

 

                                                   South:     S      K   8   5

                                                                   H       A   J   9

                                                                   D       K   7   2

                                                                   C       A   K  10  4

East opens a weak 1NT, you double, West bids 2D (Transfer to 2H), partner cue-bids 2H (game invitational with 4 spades), East doubles to show hearts and you settle for 3NT.        West leads H4.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 27th February 2021:

        You respond 1S to partner's 1C opener and West buts in with 2H.       Partner jumps to 3S and you add a fourth spade.       The contract is easy on normal breaks as you plan to set up partner's club suit but you should allow for both black suits to break badly.       You might consider losing a diamond and then playing on cross-ruff lines but this plan relies on two rounds of clubs standing up as the defence will lead a trump when the diamond is lost.      The best plan is to play a spade to S9 and attempt to cash CAK without playing a second round of trumps.        The defence can ruff a second club if the suit breaks 4-1 but you are still in control.      The defence can cash a heart and a diamond but you ruff their red suit exit in dummy, ruff a club high, cross to SJ, ruff a fourth round of clubs high and cross to SA (drawing the last outstanding trump) and run your set-up club winners.

Hand for 28th February 2021:

                                                       North:       S       6  4  2

                                                                         H       J  9  2

                                                                         D       K  J  5

                                                                         C       K Q 10  2

 

                                                       South:       S       8  5  3

                                                                         H       A Q  3 

                                                                         D       A Q  3

                                                                         C       A  6  5  4

 

You open 1C, partner responds 3C, East doubles for take-out and you bid 3NT.         West leads SJ which holds and follows with S10 and East cashes SAKQ (West discarding D2 on the 13th spade.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 26th February 2021:

            East cashes DK and switches to a trump which you win with HA.       You are in danger of losing a diamond, a club and two spades.        If the spades are 3-3 then the thirteenth spade winner is no use to you as all you can do is throw a losing club that you could ruff anyway.     Therefore, you should play on clubs and the best plan is to lead a heart to HK (drawing the last outstanding trump) and lead a low club from dummy.      If East has CK your problems are over as if CQ wins you can afford two spade losers.      Alternatively, is East rises with CK and leads S8 to can play SQ (taken by West's SA), win the spade continuation with SK, cash CQ, cross to HQ and throw two spade losers on CAJ.      If West has CK then you can be sure that SA is with East to make up the hcp required for the opening bid and you just lead a spade each time you ruff a club in dummy.

Hand for 27th February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      A  J  10  9

                                                                         H      4  2

                                                                         D      6

                                                                         C      A  K   7  5  4  2

 

                                                       South:       S      K  Q   7  4

                                                                         H      A   8   3

                                                                         D      Q   7   4  2

                                                                         C       8   3

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner bids 3S and you raise to game with 4S.

West leads HK.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 25th February 2021:

          The contract looks cast-iron on normal breaks losing two diamonds and a trump.      However, West has bid at the two-level vulnerable on minimal values so you should expect bad breaks and a minor suit singleton would have been led rather than the "safe" HK.      You should thus take precautions against a bad trump break by ruffing a heart at trick 2, crossing to SA and ruff another heart before cashing SK to get the bad news of East holding two top trumps.      You continue with CK, CA and a club ruff before crossing to DA  in order to lead a fourth club.      It does East no good to ruff in and cash a top trump as you then make a small trump by force.         Otherwise, the defence is powerless to stop you ruffing the club with a small trump "en passant".

 

Hand for 26th February 2021:

                                                         North:      S      6  3  2

                                                                          H     K  J  8  4  3

                                                                          D      9

                                                                          C      A  J  9  6  5

 

                                                         South:      S      K  Q 9  4

                                                                          H      A  Q  9  6  5

                                                                          D      Q  2   

                                                                          C      Q  2

East opens 1D, you overcall 1H, West bids 2D and partner jumps to 4H.        West leads D4 and East plays DK and exits with a trump.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 24th February 2021:

            The contract is good but you must avoid losing a spade and two hearts.        You have chances of an end-play against West but the best plan is to cash two top trumps and lead a low spade from dummy.        East naturally plays low and your SQ wins and you lead a spade to SA and repeat the spade play so you can throw a heart from dummy on SJ.        Note that should SQ lose to SK you eliminate diamonds and spades and lead  HJ  and run it if not covered.       If covered you cross to a trump in dummy and lead a heart towards H10 winning if West has a doubleton honour in  hearts or if East has both heart honours.

 

Hand for 25th February 2021:

                                                         North:       S      A

                                                                           H      A  J  7

                                                                           D      A  9  7  3  2

                                                                           C      A  6  4  2

 

                                                         South:       S      K  8  6  5  4  3  2

                                                                            H     5

                                                                            D     6   5  4

                                                                            C     K   9

 

Partne roopenns 1C, you respond 1S, West intervenes with 2H, partner bids 2NT and you sign off with 4S.

West leads HK.         Plan the play. 

Analysis for 23rd February 2021:

         According to standard technique to limit the defenders comunications youu duck the SQ lead and win the continuation perforce with SK.       With seven top tricks only you need two extra tricks in the minors in the likely case that West does not have HQx doubleton.      If West has two entries in clubs out of the missing CAQJ then you will be bound to go down so you should play on the assumption only one of these is held by West.        The first step should be to duck a club to East who has no more spades given that West has six of them so lead C2 and play C8 unless West plays C9.       East wins with CJ which places West with C9  so you now know it is no good ducking a second club hoping that West has CA doubleton.        East will exit with a diamond which you should win in dummy and lead a club to CK.         If East plays CQ you set up C10 by force and if West wins CA there are good chances that the clubs are 3-3 with West holding C9 & East holding CQ so you win West's spade exit and lead a club to set up C5.         In that case you probably need the diamonds 3-3 unless you are able to cash your remaining top heart(s) and SA which will squeeze  East in the red suits.         However on the actual hand CK wins and a club exit gives you the thirteenth club for your nine tricks so you don't need the diamonds to break.

 

Hand for 24th February 2021:

                                                       North:      S     A  6  2

                                                                        H     J  7  6

                                                                        D     A  3

                                                                        C     A  Q  9  8  6

 

                                                       South:      S     Q  J  8  7

                                                                        H     A  10 4

                                                                        D     2

                                                                        C     K   J 10 3  2

You open 1C, West overcalls 1D, partner cue-bids 2D, you bid 2S, partner cue-bids 3D, you bid 3H and partner jumps to 5C.       West leads DK.         Plan the play.       

Analysis for 22nd February 2021:

         The bidding tells you that West is short in diamonds and trumps and since East has three or four hearts having preferred hearts to spades it is likely that East has only two or three spades and also may have CQxx if West is void.       The fact that you need a couple of diamond tricks should mean that a cross-ruff is not possible and you should therefore play to set up the diamond suit for spade discards.       When HA is led this suggests that West does not have SAK and thus probably holds DA so you should ruff the opening lead, cross to CK (both opponents following) and draw the last outstanding trump with CA before leading a diamond from hand towards dummy's DQ.       West wins with the bare Ace.       Now it is a simple matter to win the next trick, cash DKJ, ruff a spade in dummy and discard two losing spades on DQ9 before cross-ruffing the remainder for twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 23rd February 2021:

                                                         North:      S       9  6

                                                                          H      A  K  8  7

                                                                          D      A  Q  9  3

                                                                          C     10  8  6

 

                                                         South:      S      A  K  2

                                                                          H      J   5  4

                                                                          D      K   8  2

                                                                          C      K   5  4  2

West opens a weak 2S, partner doubles for take-out and you end proceedings with 3NT.       West leads SQ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st February 2021:

         The contract looks secure enough with five trumps, two hearts, one diamond and two ruffs in dummy but when you broach clubs the defence will switch to trumps and so you should not play any rounds of trumps early on in the play.       East is marked with DKQJ and so may or may not have CA if heart honours are held.       It looks obvious to cross to a trump in order to lead a club but the safe line is to win DA at trick 1 and lead a low club from hand.     If West wins cheaply and exits with a trump you win in dummy and lead a second club.      If East wins CA you have not lost anything by not entering dummy with a trump and leading up to CK earlier as you can throw a losing heart from dummy on CK, cash two rounds of trumps with SKA, cash HAK, ruff a heart, ruff a diamond and ruff a fourth round of clubs to make a well deserved overtrick without jeopardising the contract by letting West lead trumps twice from three small to kill one of the ruffs in dummy.

Hand for 22nd February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      Void

                                                                         H      8  7  5  3

                                                                         D     Q  9  8  6  5

                                                                         C     K  9  8  4

 

                                                        South:      S     K  J  9  8

                                                                          H     Void

                                                                          D     K  J  4

                                                                          C     A  J 10 7  5  3

 

You open 1C, West bids 2C (A Michaels' Cue-bid showing 5/5+ in both majors), partner bids 3C, East bids 3H, you bid 5C, East bids 5H and you try 6C.        West leads HA.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 20th February 2021:

          You have been lucky to escape a club lead and you obviously cash SAKQ to ditch one of your club losers.      However it is not correct to start on your trummps at this point but play a 4th round of spades ditching your last club before playinf two rounds of trumps.      Otherwise the defence can arrange to lead a fourth round of spades and make HAJ as well as HK to put you one down.      The defence can win the fourth round of spades but cannot come to three trump tricks and so your contract is safe.

 

Hand for 21st February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      K  Q 10 8

                                                                         H     10  9  7

                                                                         D       6  5  4  3

                                                                         C       3  2

 

                                                        South:      S      A  J  9  3  2

                                                                         H      A  K  2

                                                                         D      A

                                                                         C      K  8  7  6

 

You open 1S, partner responds 2S, East overcalls 3D and you try 4S.        West leads D9.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th February 2021:

        East is  bidding vulnerable at the two level and it is thus certain that the 2S overcall is based on a six or seven card suit and that means that East is short in either diamonds or clubs when the two top trumps prove sufficient to draw the outstanding trumps.        As east on the play is missing DQ as well this shortage is likely to be a singleton.       You plan an elimination as the defence cannot lead a third round of spades.        All is now well if you cash CK retaining the CAJ tenace in hand and then play your last top diamond and another.        If West wins the trick either black suit exit gives you a trick and if East has the diamond length and wins the trick then a singleton club is likely and will have to give you a ruff and discard when you throw CJ and ruff in dummy.

 

Hand for 20th February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      A  K  Q  5

                                                                         H      9   8  5  4

                                                                         D      2

                                                                         C      Q  9  7  4

 

                                                        South:      S       8  3

                                                                          H     Q 10  7  6  2

                                                                          D     A  K  Q  3

                                                                          C     10 2

West opens a weak 1NT, passed round to your 2H overcall and partner raises to the 4H game.        West leads DJ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th February 2021:

         With the spade finesse off-side on the bidding and only one entry to dummy the only suit to develop for tricks is clubs where you need to develop three extra tricks to add to your six top tricks.       The way to play the suit for overtricks is win DA and finesse C10 and if it loses cash CA.       If East has a doubleton Qx or Kx you have five club tricks and if the clubs are 3-2 you are bound to have four club tricks and your contract by just forcing out the other honour.       However this is not the best play for four tricks as East may have CK976 or CQ976.       Therefore, you should win DK at trick 1, cash CA and if nothing appears cross to DA and lead a club from dummy playing C8 if East plays small.        This guarantees the contract on any probable 4-1 club break (West having length in both black suits being unlikely) and in fact produces a overtrick on the actual distribution.

Hand for 19th February 2021:

                                                         North:      S      K  2

                                                                          H      K  9  7  6

                                                                          D      A  3  2

                                                                          C      K  8  5  2

 

                                                        South:       S      J  5

                                                                          H      A  Q 10 5  2

                                                                          D      K  6  5

                                                                          C      A  J  3

Partner opens a weak 1NT, East overcalls 2S and you bid 4H.       West leads S9 and East wins SQ & SA before switching to DJ.       Trumps are 2-2.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th February 2021:

           When opponents pre-empt at the four level you should expect your suit to break badly and should always play carefully if possible.        You win HA at trick 1 and shold resist cashing SA as if you play Ace and another trump on this hand you will go at least eight off!       You should start with a low spade playing S7 unless West plays an honour.        East wins S10 and probably leads a second heart to force dummy but you should ruff and lead SJ, ducking when East produces the SQ.         If West follows you have lost nothing as you had to lose two trumps anyway with East holding S10.         West can do nothing to hurt you and you enter dummy with DQ to take the marked finesse in trumps by leading S8 to your S9 and draw the last outstanding trump with SA  and eventually lead a club at trick 12 to make CK for your tenth trick.

 

Hand for 18th February 2021:

                                                        North:      S       8  3   2

                                                                         H      Q  J  10  7  4

                                                                         D      A   7   5

                                                                         C       5   2

 

                                                        South:      S       A   K  J

                                                                          H      8

                                                                          D      K   Q  9

                                                                          C      A   J  10  8  4  3

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for take-out, you jump to 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.

West leads D2.        Plan the play.                      .    

Analysis for 16th February 2021:

        Without a trump lead you would be able to ruff your 3rd and 4th round diamond losers and thus you need to make something of your heart side-suit to compensate.       If East holds HA you will need hearts 3-3 or the spades 2-2 but when you win S10 at trick 1 you start by leading a heart up to test the layout.        When HQ holds you cross to DA and lead another heart.       If West wins HA and inconveniently plays another heart you play low from dummy and ruff in hand, cross to SA, cash HK (discarding D4) and play DAK and ruff D6 with SK and eventually ruff a club or diamond high and play out your trumps to bring your total up to eleven tricks.        You cannot play a second round of trumps early on as West will play a third round to kill your entry to dummy for the fifth heart - the alternative plan to ruffing a diamond.

 

Hand for 17th February 2021:

                                                        North:     S     J   8  7  4

                                                                        H     6

                                                                        D     A  K  Q  7  5  3

                                                                        C     8   4

 

                                                       South:      S     A   9  6  5

                                                                        H     A   3

                                                                        D     J   9   8  2

                                                                        C     K  Q   3

 

West opens with a pre-emptive 4H, partner doubles and you settle for 4S.       West leads HK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 15th February 2021:

         West leads DJ against your optimistic slam which appears to depend on not losing a trump as you have a certain third round club loser.      You are likely to cash HK and probably decide to finesse (because West  being long in spades is thus likely to be short in trumps).       However the trumps could easily be 2-2 instead of 3-1 but in fact 4-Nil gives you better chances but you have to envisgage this at trick 1.       The best plan is to win DK at trick 1, unblock SA and lead a trump to HK.     If both opponents follow suit you can do no better than plan as mentioned above.        However, if either opponent shows out you ruff a spade, cross to DQ, ruff a spade, cash CAK, re-enter dummy by ruffing your DA winner and ruff another spade.        If all has gone well, you can then exit with C6 as an opponent ruffs in and is forced to lead away from HQ10 into your remaining HAJ.

Hand for 16th February 2021:

                                                       North:       S       A   K   9

                                                                         H       K  Q   6  3  2

                                                                         D      10  3

                                                                         C       5   3   2

 

                                                       South:       S       Q  J  10  8   7  3

                                                                         H        7  4

                                                                         D        A  K   6  4

                                                                         C        4

Partner opens 1H, East bids 2C, you bid 2S, West bids 3C, partner bids 3S, East bids 5C and you bid 5S.

West leads S5 (East playing S8).        Plan the play.        

Analysis for 14th February 2021:

        West leads HA and switches to DK, overtaken by East with DA as you ruff in.        The bidding and play so far tells you that West probably has HAKJxx and DKQxx for the opening bid and so you are in danger of losing three hearts and a trump if you cash SAK even if - as hoped - trumps break 3-2.      The best plan - not foolproof - is to lead a second heart yourself, ruff the diamond continuation and ruff a heart in dummy hoping that East has three trumps.       If East declines to overruff you cross to CA and ruff HQ.      If East overruffs you win the diamond exit and cash SAK hoping to draw all the outstanding trumps and throw HQ on the fourth round of clubs.       Note it is not good enough to duck a trump in both hands at Trick 3.    Although you keep trump control with S7 in dummy to cover a third heart lead  it is unlikely that the defence will play "safe" and force you with another diamond lead as they can defeat the contract via a heart overruff when you lose two hearts and two trumps.

 

Hand for 15th February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      9  8  4  2

                                                                         H     K  8  4

                                                                         D     Q  6

                                                                         C     9   7  3  2

 

                                                        South:      S     A

                                                                         H     A  J  7  6  5  2

                                                                         D     Q  6

                                                                         C     A  K  6

 

You open 2C, West overcalls 2S, you bid 4H after two passes, partner invites with 5H and you try 6H. 

West leads DJ.     Plan the play.         

Analysis for 13th February 2021:

         East double tells you that the club finesse is not going to be successful so you rise with CA at trick 1.       Your initial plan is to cash DAK and then play three rounds of spades discarding two clubs from hand.        However West would show out on the second round of trumps leaving East with an infuriating DQ8.        Although you can play winning spades from dummy East discarding two clubs and three hearts East can discard down to a heart void and ruff your HA.        This can be avoided by the far-sighted sequence of plays:   CA, DA, HA, DK and then run the spades.         All is hunky-dory if East ruffs a winning spade as you overuff, ruff a heart and continue with winning spades unless Eaast ruffs high and then you discard a loser and draw D8 when you ruff East's exit with a low trump.

 

Hand for 14th February 2021:

                                                        North:      S      7  4

                                                                         H      7  4

                                                                         D      8  4  3  2

                                                                         C      Q J 10 6  3

 

                                                        South:      S      A  K   8  6  5  3

                                                                         H      Q   9   6  5

                                                                         D      Void

                                                                         C      A   K   5

 

West opens 1H, partner passes, East bids 1NT and you settle for 4S.       West cashes HA and switches to DK.

Plan the play. 

Analysis for 12th February 2021:

           You are in a contract with plenty of chances but all you have to do is avoid losing a heart, two clubs and a trump.      The opening bid by West tells you that the CA is almost certainly offside.       Although the trumps breaking 2-2 or singleton Q is 50/50 and normally you would broach trumps by playing SAK, the best plan is avoidance with East being the danger hand who you should avoid giving the lead to.      You should therefore duck the first trick, win the heart or diamond continuation in dummy and run the S10.      You expect that West, when winning SQ, will not be able to do you any damage as a club lead from West will give you a trick with CK and that a club through your CK9 by the defence is not possible.      On the actual hand, you draw three rounds of trumps and discard two losing clubs on the 4th and 5th diamond winners and end up with a well deserved overtrick as you did not put the contract in jeopardy.

 

Hand for 13th February 2021:

                                                          North:       S       A  K  Q  J  10  3

                                                                            H       6

                                                                            D       K  J  10  6

                                                                            C       A  Q

 

                                                          South:       S       5

                                                                             H      A   J  10  5  4

                                                                             D      K   9   7   3

                                                                             C       J   4   2

 

Partner opens an artificial 2C, you bid 2H, partner bids 2S, you bid 3D, partner raises to 4D, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C, East doubles, you pass and partner re-doubles (showing 1st round control of clubs) and you sign off with 6D.          West leads C9.          Plan the play.        

Analysis for 11th February 2021:

        West has done well not to lead a heart which would have given you a second heart and hence your twelfth trick.        With four spades.a heart and three diamonds you just need four club tricks for your contract but you have to be careful to maximise guaranteeing success.       You should win DQ at trick 1, cash SKQ to unblock the suit and duck a club in both hands.         As long as the clubs are no worse than 4-2 you are home  as you can ross to CK to cash SAJ (throwing HJ10) and return to a diamond to cash three club tricks.

 

Hand for 12th February 2021:

                                                        North:       S      10  9   8   5

                                                                          H       A   5

                                                                          D       A  Q  J  10  7

                                                                          C       8   4

 

                                                        South:       S       A   K  J   6  4

                                                                           H       7   6

                                                                           D       K   9  3

                                                                           C       K   9  2

 

West opens 1H, partner makes a take-out double and you jump to 4S.        West leads HK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 10th February 2021:

        The contract is a good one but you should allow for both black suits to break 4-1.      If East has four trumps you will go down unless the club finesse is right but you can persevere if West has four trumps.       The defence cashes two diamonds and switches to a heart which you win with HA and cash SAQ (East discarding a diamond).        You should now play CA and follow with CJ.        West can ruff in and force you with a heart but you are in control.        You ruff with S9, ruff a club with SK and cross to SJ (drawing the last outstanding trump) and cash set up clubs.        Alternatively, if West discards East is left without resource.        If East wins CQ and forces you to ruff a heart you merely play winning clubs until West ruffs in when you overruff with SK and draw the outstanding trump with SJ and run winning clubs.         It does East no good to duck CJ as you merely ruff a low club with SK and cross to SJ to play winning clubs until West ruffs and regain the lead with S9 to cash the remaining clubs.

 

Hand for 11th February 2021:

                                                       North:       S      A   J  5  2

                                                                         H      7   6  4  2

                                                                         D      7   4  3

                                                                         C      K  6

 

                                                       South:       S      K  Q   3

                                                                          H      A  J  10

                                                                          D      A  K  Q

                                                                          C      A  Q   7  4   3

 

West opens a weak 2H, passes round to your take-out double, partner bids 2S, you jump to 3NT, partner invits with 4NT and you sign off with 6NT.         West leads DJ.        Plan the play   3

                                                                          c. 

Analysis for 9th February 2021:

       You have a good play for twelve tricks via the heart finesse and you would have had to rely on this on a heart heart.         Having escaped a heart lead you should look for something better and that is to develop the moth-eaten club suit for two heart discards, taking care to not lose a trick to West who would foil your plan.       The simple way of keeping West off lead is to play DJ at trick 1 and discard a losing club when East plays DQ on dummy's DJ.      You win the trump exit in hand with S10, cross to CA, discard a second club on DA, ruff a club high, cross to SQ, ruff a club high and draw the last outstanding trump with SJ.      Now you can cross to HA and discard HQ10 on C65, improving your odds from 1 in 2 to 2 in 3.        Obviously, if clubs turn out to be 4-1 you can fall back on the heart finesse.

 

Hand for 10th February 2021:

                                                        North:       S      K  6  4  3

                                                                          H      A  8  6  4  2

                                                                          D      9   4

                                                                          C     10  9

 

                                                         South:      S      A   Q  J  9

                                                                           H      5

                                                                           D      Q   7

                                                                           C      A   K  J  8  6  3

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1D, partner doubles for take-out, East bids 2D and you sign off with 4S.

West leads DAK and switches to H4.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 8th February 2021:

         With only seven tricks on top and three diamonds to lose to need to set up two tricks for the loss of only one and the obvious suit to play on is spades.        West may have led a diamond if holding DAK so the top diamonds are probably split with SK probably with West.       The best plan therefore is not to lead a low spade up to your SJ7 but lead SJ from hand.         So you win HA at trick 1 - you cannot afford to duck one round - and play SJ.        This wins if spades are 3-3 with the SK right or East holding S10x or S9x or West S10&9 doubleton.        On the given distribution, West covers with SK so you win SA, cash SQ (dropping East's S10) and lead S8 as now S86 are equals against West's S94.        The defence can cash DAKJ but S6 is your ninth trick (3S, 2H & 4C).

 

Hand for 9th February 2021:

                                                      North:       S       Q   6

                                                                        H       A   J   6

                                                                        D       A   J   4

                                                                        C       A   6   5   3   2

 

                                                      South:       S       A   K   J  10  8  7  4 

                                                                        H       Q  10   4

                                                                        D       Void

                                                                        C        9    7   4 

 

West opens 2D (Weak), partner overcalls 2NT (15-18) and you settle for 6S.       West leads D10.      Plan the play.  

Analysis for 7th February 2021:

       The S5 lead is marked as a singleton but the contract looks secure with two top spades, four top hearts two top diamonds and four club tricks.        However, the normal play of SA and running CJ for an overtrick might risk the contract if West has all five missing clubs.         The 100% line is to win SA (preserving an entry back to hand with SK), cross to HQ and lead C2.         Were West to show out and East wins CQ, you would be able to cash CJ and take the marked finesse of C8 to make your four required club tricks.         When East shows out on C10 you cross back to HA and lead up to dummy's CJ3.         In this way you are guaranteed four club tricks to give you twelve in all.

 

Hand for 8th February 2021:

                                                      North:       S       A   Q  8  6  2

                                                                        H       A   5

                                                                        D       Q   3

                                                                        C       Q   J   7  4

 

                                                      South:       S        J   7

                                                                        H        K   8   3

                                                                        D        10  9   6  5

                                                                        C         A  K  10  5

 

East opens a weak 2H, passed round to partner who competes with 2S, you try for game with 2NT and partner accepts with 3NT.        West leads H6.       Plan the play.                                                                                                                

Analysis for 6th February 2021:

        You would have nine tricks except for the heart lead that takes away your entry for three diamond tricks after cashing DAK.    The best plan is to duck HQ and the heart continuation throwing DA from dummy.        If the defence perseveres with a third heart  you can unblock DK on this trick and have your nine tricks available via HA, five diamonds, two clubs and SA.     If the defence exits with a black suit you unblock DAK and play Ace and a low spade from dummy in order to gain entry to hand with SQ so you can cash your diamonds.

 

Hand for 7th February 2021:

                                                      North:       S      A  4  3

                                                                        H      K  J   8   3

                                                                        D      A  K   4

                                                                        C      J  10  3

 

                                                       South:      S      K  10  2

                                                                         H      A   Q

                                                                         D       7   6  3

                                                                         C       A   K  8  5  2

East opens a weak 2S, you bid 2NT, partner bids an invitational 4NT and you raise to 6NT.       West leads S5.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 5th February 2021:

         The fortunate D2 lead which is a likely singleton tells you that the black suits may break badly and you should play carefully.  On the face of it if you ruff, cross to HJ, ruff a second diamond, cross to SA, and run your trumps West would be squeezed in the black suits and you chalk up an overtrick.       However this would lead to defeat when East ruffs the first spade and leads a club to West's CA.        You should instead ruff the opening lead, draw trumps in as many rounds as it takes, cash SA (East discarding a diamond), cash SQ, finesse S10, discard a diamond on SK, ruff a spade back to hand and lead a club claiming CK and three trumps for twelve tricks.

Hand for 6th February 2021:

                                                      North:      S       A   7   5   2

                                                                       H      10

                                                                       D       A   K

                                                                       C       A   K   9  5  4  3

 

                                                      South:      S       Q   J   3

                                                                       H        A   J   5

                                                                       D        Q   J  10  9  8

                                                                       C        6    2

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1D, West jumps to 2H (Weak), partner bids 3S and you bid 3NT.       

West leads H7 (East playing HQ).        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 4th February 2021:

       West has obviously SAQxxx(x) for the 1S overcall and probably HQ or CK outside but not necessarily both.      With eight tricks on top, the obvious source of tricks is to take the club finesse but you could go down if East has CK and is able to shoot a spade through.        The 100% line is thus to win S10 at trick 1, cross to DJ and finesse HJ into the "safe" hand, not caring it it loses.        West will win but you should refuse the club finesse if a club exit winning CA, then cross to HK, cross to DK, cash HA10 and cross to DAQ for nine tricks and your contract.

 

Hand for 5th February 2021:

                                                      North:       S       K  10  8  7  6

                                                                        H      10   9  8

                                                                        D       Void

                                                                        C       K   6   5  4  3

 

                                                      South:       S       A   Q   4

                                                                        H       A   K   Q  J   7  6

                                                                        D       6    5 

                                                                        C       8    7

 

East opens a gambling 3NT (Long solid minor with no ace outside), you double, West takes out to 4C and East converts to 4D. you bid 4H, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C (SA & HAK), partner asks with 5D and you jump to 6H (holding HQ).       West leads D2.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 3rd February 2021:

      The contract looks secure enough but if you ruff and cash two top trumps and they are 4-1 you are doomed as the defence can ruff a heart winner and exit in trumps leaving you a trick short.      It is good insurance to consider what will happen if trumps are 4-1 and well worth giving up a possible overtick.       The contract is 100% on a 4-1 break and a 4-2 heart break if you merely duck the first trump in each hand.        The defence is powerless - on a diamond return you win DK, cash CK, cross to HA, ruff a spade, cross to HK, draw the outstanding trumps with CAQ (discarding D52) and cross to DK & HQJ10.

 

Hand for 4th February 2021:

                                                      North:      S      3  2

                                                                       H     A  10  7  6

                                                                       D     K   J   4

                                                                       C     A   4   3  2

 

                                                      South       S     K  J  10

                                                                       H     K  J

                                                                       D     A  Q   7  5

                                                                       C     Q  J  10  9

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for take-out, you jump to 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.

West leads S7.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 2nd February 2021:

       A similar theme to yesterday.       West cashes three top spades and switches to DJ.      Your contract is certain on a 3-2 trump break and so you should prepare for a trump coup if trumps are 1-4 with East holding Hxxx in trumps.       You win DK, cash HK, cross to CA, ruff a club, cross to HA and ruff a club to reduce down to the same length as East.      Then cash DQ, cross to DA which hopefully stands up and then lead a minor suit and overruff East's trump J7 with your Q9.

 

Hand for 3rd February 2021:

                                                      North:      S     Void

                                                                       H     Q  J  10  9  3

                                                                       D     A   K  5   2

                                                                       C     K   9   5   3

 

                                                      South:      S     10  7   6  5  2

                                                                        H     A   K

                                                                        D      6   3

                                                                        C      A  Q   6  2

 

Partner opens 1H, East overcalls 1S, you bid 2C and partner bids 4S (A splinter bid showing a singleton or void spade and a raise to 5C, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner bids 5H and you bid 6C.       West leads SA.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 1st February 2021:

      West leads SK against your 6H contract and you consider that only a bad trump split can endanger it.       There is nothing that can be done if West has four trumps but you can hope for a trump coup against East if West has a singleton 10 or Queen as long as you play carefully.        You win SA, immediately ruff a spade, cash HA and lead DQ.        West can win and lead a club but you win in hand with C10 and cross to HK.        Now you get the bad news that East still has H107 and you only HQ86 left with no trump left in dummy to be able to take a marked finesse.        Hence you ruff another spade to reduce your trump length to the same as East, cross to CK and lead winning diamonds from dummy until East ruffs when you overruff, draw the last outstanding trump and cash winning clubs.        If East discards instead on the diamonds you win the last two tricks with HQ8 overruffing East.

 

Hand for 2nd February 2021:

                                                        North:      S       9  6  3

                                                                         H       A  3

                                                                         D       A  5  4  3

                                                                         C       A  9  5  2

 

                                                        South:      S       J   7  5

                                                                          H      K  Q  9  8  6  5

                                                                          D      K  Q  2

                                                                          C      6

West opne 1C, partner & East pass, you jump to 2H and partner raises to 4H.       West cashes three top spades and exits with DJ.       Plan the play.         

Analysis for 31st January 2021:

       West leads a S9 against your contract of 4H and you consider your prospects.      You have 2 possible diamond losers, one club and one trump if the HK is not as expected with the opening bid.        However if West does have the HK then East will have CK and two diamond tricks.        Therefore the way to look at the hand is to win the spade lead in hand with SA and lead H10 at trick 2 as if East wins HK the defence cannot prevail as East is not the danger hand.         From West's point of view East might have HA singleton and so it would be wrong to rise with HK.        When H10 holds, you cash HA and run CJ to East's CK who probably exits with a spade to SK and you cash CAQ10 (discarding D87 as West ruffs in).        All you then lose is one diamond, one club and one trump.

 

Hand for 1st February 2021:

                                                      North:       S      A   7   6

                                                                        H      K   9

                                                                        D      K   J  10   6  5   2

                                                                        C      K   3

 

                                                      South:       S      3

                                                                         H     A   Q   8   6   3   2

                                                                         D     Q

                                                                         C     A    Q   J  10  2

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2D, you bid 4C, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5S (2  Aces plus CQ) and partner bids 6H.       West leads SK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 30th January 2021:

        You win the DK lead with DA and consider your options.        It seems the best idea to ruff two diamonds in dummy and then force out HK because otherwise the defence may be able to win HK most of the time and then cash a diamond for one down!      There is a trap, however.       If you ruff a diamond, cross to SA, ruff another diamond with HA, cash SK, ruff a spade and then lead HQ, then the defence will lock you in dummy with a club lead and if clubs are 3-1 you will lose a club ruff.       You can cater for the hand with a singleton club holding HK by cashing one club before ruffing a spade back to hand in order to lead HQ.        It is not 100% but this gives you the best chance.

 

Hand for 31st January 2021:

                                                      North:      S       K  10

                                                                       H       9    8    5   2

                                                                       D       K   10

                                                                       C       A    Q  10  9  2

 

                                                      South:      S       A    6    2

                                                                       H       A    Q    J  10   3

                                                                       D        8    7    5

                                                                       C        J    7

 

East opens 1S, you overcall 2H and partner raises to 4H.        West leads S9.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 29th January 2021:

       West leads H2 against your 4H contract and it is a blow when East discards SQ indicating a 6-Nil trump split.      West mxits ust have a shortage,therefore, but may well have led a singleton spade or diamond and is likely to be 6/3/2/2 distribution.      If  the clubs are 3-3 you have chances of end-playing West when forced to ruff in as long as you can ruff a club in dummy but it is vital to keep West off lead as a second trump lead will stop you making an extra trump.         Accordingly, you lead a club from dummy at trick 2 and if East plays CQ you duck.         Otherwise you win CA and lead a club covering West's card, hoping for East to have CQJ or CQ10.       East wins C10 and exits with SA and another and you cross to CA (both opponents following), cash DAK and ruff a diamond high with HA, ruff a club with dummy's HQ and lead a spade and ruff with H7.        West can overruff with H9 but then has to lead a trump from H106 into your HK8 for your ninth and tenth tricks.

 

Hand for 30th January 2021:

                                                       North:      S      K   7   6

                                                                        H      A   3

                                                                        D       5

                                                                        C       A   K  Q  6  5  4  2 

 

                                                       South:      S       A   3

                                                                        H       Q   J  10  9  8  5

                                                                        D       A    8   2

                                                                        C        8   3

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner bids 3C, East bids 5D, you bid 5H and partner raises to 6H.   West leads DK.  Plan the play.

Analysis for 28th January 2021:

        West cashes the DA and continues a second round to East's DK which you ruff and cash HAK (East discarding a third diamond on the second round of trumps).        Counting two spade ruffs in dummy you have ten tricks with the CK likely to be with West, the opening bidder,  as West may have led East's bid suit with a good holding and so a club finesse will give you an eleventh trick.      If clubs are 4/3 you can set up the fifth round of clubs for your twelfth trick but as a Plan B you should consider that East may be under pressure to control the later rounds of both black suits.       Accordingly, you lead a third diamond from dummy at trick 5 and when East discards a club you know East's shape is 4-1-3-5 as a spade would surely have been discarded from a five card suit looking at dummy's clubs.        You now don't even need to take the club finesse as a club to CA and another will crash CK.      A spade ruff allows you to ruff another club to set up the suit.       Alternatively, if East had thrown a spade at trick 5 you would find your spades are set up after two ruffs in dummy and if the clubs are not good then the spades will be!

Hand for 29th January 2021:

                                                       North:       S       8  6  5  3

                                                                         H      Q  J

                                                                         D       A  K  8  3

                                                                         C       K  9  5

 

                                                        South:      S       K  7

                                                                          H      A  K  8  7  3

                                                                          D       7  5

                                                                          C       A  7  6  2

 

East opens 1S, you overcall 2H and partner raises to 4H.       West leads H2 (East discarding SQ).       Plan the play.  

Analysis for 27th January 2021:

      West leads SJ to your contract of 6C and you win SA, cross to DA and run CQ, losing to CK and West exits with a club to CJ as East discards S2.       West has shown ten cards in  the black suits and you plan to take advantage of the fact that East will be in sole control of both red suits.       You draw West's outstanding trump with C10 (East discarding D2) and ruff a diamond (both opponents following) .       As West has at most one heart you have a certain three heart tricks as either West has HQ singleton or East's HQ is marked and finessable.      Cashing the SK forces East to discard a heart or a diamond and whichever suit is let go enables you to set up a long card in the other red suit.     You cross to HA and if East has discarded two diamonds by this stage you ruff a second diamond to set up DJ10 for two heart discards with a hear ruff as entry.      If East has discarded a heart you lead a heart to HJ, ruff a heart and ruff a diamond in order to cash HK7 for twelve tricks.

Hand for 28th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S       3

                                                                       H       A  K  J  4

                                                                       D      10  3  2

                                                                       C       A  Q 10  6  4

 

                                                      South:      S       A  10  8  7  5

                                                                       H       8   7   6  5  3  2

                                                                       D       Q

                                                                       C       9

 

West opens 1D, partner makes a take-out double, East bids 1S, you bid 4H, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5D response bids 6H.        West leads DA and continues with D7 which you ruff and cash HAK (East discarding a diamond on the second top heart.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 26th January 2021:

       West leads DA against 3NT(East playing D10) and switches to HQ which you win with HK as the bidding and early play suggests that diamonds are 1-7(as otherwise four rounds of diamonds would have been played by the defence) and hearts are 6-2(otherwise West would have passed over 1NT).       When you cash CAK, East throws a diamond on CK so it appears that East's shape is 3-2-7-1 including DKQ and SAQ to account for the opening bid.        Although you only have eight top tricks it appears that you can thus lead towards SK for your ninth trick.        However, in order to get to dummy to lead a spade you will have to lead a club (using your last entry to dummy) and then you will have to cash your remaining three clubs.        This will put you in trouble for discards as East can come down to SAQ & DKQ10 but you cannot keep SKx & DJxx & HA as you have to discard one of these to come down to five cards.       The solution is to cash HA before running the clubs and then on the last club you can discard down to stiff SK if East has released SQ when you make trick 13 with DJ to make nine tricks.  Alternatively, if SQ has not been discarded, you throw D6 and make trick 13 with SK to make your nine tricks.

 

Hand for 27th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S       Q   9

                                                                       H       A   3

                                                                       D       A   J  10  6   3

                                                                       C       Q   J  10  5

 

                                                      South:      S       A   K

                                                                       H       K   J  7  5  2

                                                                       D        4

                                                                       C        A   9  7  3  2

 

West opens 3S, you double after two passes, partner bids 4S, you bid 5C and partner raises to 6C.       West leads SJ. You win SK, cross to DA and run CQ which loses to CK and West exits with a trump (East discarding S2).   

Plan the play.

Plan th

Analysis for 25th January 2021

West leads C10 and you win CA and consider that you can make the slam by ruffing two losing clubs in dummy if trumps are 3-1 as long as you are not overruffed on the third round of diamonds.      However you need to be careful that trumps are not 4-Nil and the bidding tells you that East may have four spades but West will not.     To get the timing right you need to exit with a heart at trick 2.     You ruff a heart continuation and cash SA getting the news that East has S9865, cross to CK, ruff a club with S10, ruff a heart, cash DK, cash DA, ruff a heart (overruffing if necessary),  ruff your fourth club with SJ and lead a red card (overruffing if necessary) and draw the remaining trumps.

 

Hand for 26th January 2021:

                                                       North:      S      J   7   4   2

                                                                        H     10  3

                                                                        D      4

                                                                        C      Q   J  10  8  7  3

 

                                                       South:      S      K   8    3

                                                                        H      A   K    6

                                                                        D       J   9    6   5

                                                                        C       A   K   6

 

East opens 1D, you bid 1NT, East bids 2H, partner bids 3C and you bid 3NT.       West cashes DA and switches to HQ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 24th January 2021:

       West leads HA and switches to S7 when East discourages.        You play S9 but East wins S10 and exits with D9 which you win in dummy with DA.      You need to set up the fifth club for a spade discard but also ruff two diamonds before drawing trumps which may not split 2-2.       The correct timing is to lead D3 to D7 at trick 4, ruff a heart with DQ, cash CAK, ruff a club with DJ, ruff a heart with DK, ruff a fourt round of clubs with D10, draw the last outstanding trump with D8 and cross to SA to discard S8 on C8 and ruff a spade in hand for your eleventh trick.

Hand for 25th January 2021:

                                                       North:       S       A  J  10

                                                                         H      Q 10   6  5

                                                                         D      A   8   7   4

                                                                         C      A   6

 

                                                        South:      S       K  Q   7   6   3  2

                                                                          H       8

                                                                          D       K   5

                                                                          C       K   7   5   3

 

Partner opens 1D, East doubles for take-out, you bid 1S, partner bids 1NT, you bid 2C forcing, partner bids 3S (showing 3 card support and 15-16hcp), you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5H (2 Aces) and you sign off in 6S.

West leads C10.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 23rd January 2021:

       West leads CQ against your 4H contract (East playing C2).      The clubs may be 2-2 ot East or West may have a singleton but you have good chances if HK is with the opening bid as is likely from the opening bid.      At trick 2 you should lead a heart to HQ (West dropping HK), cash HA, lead a diamond to DA, ruff a diamond and lead a club towards your CK.       East will discard a diamond as ruffing in would not help as it would be ruffing a loser and so you win CA and ruff a second diamond.         You then exit with a club to West's CJ and hope for the best.        West is out of diamonds and is thus end-played to give you a spade trick which is your tenth trick.        The defence can take the master trump when then like  but you can win SK and two club winners or if they ruff a master club you have a trump left as entry for the fifth club.

 

Hand for 24th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S       A  Q  9

                                                                       H      10

                                                                       D       A  K  Q  3

                                                                       C       A  K   8  7  3

 

                                                      South:      S       8   6   4

                                                                       H       6   5   4

                                                                       D       J  10  8  7  2

                                                                       C       6   2

 

East opens 1H, you pass, West bids 2H, partner makes a take-out double,  East bids 3H passed round to partner who doubles again, you bid 4D and partner raises to 5D.       West leads HA (East following with H2) and switches to S7 (S9 losing to S10) and East exits with D9.       Plan the play.     

Analysis for 22nd January 2021

The bidding (West's take-out double) tells you that trumps may not break 3-2 but West may have length in hearts and spades but not five of either otherwise a major overcall would have occurred.         You duck the first club as a matter of good technique and win the second round with CA intent on playing for a cross-ruff as your best chance for the contract.                                 Accordingly, you cash HAK & DK at tricks 3 to 5, play a spade to SA, ruff a spade, ruff a club high, ruff a spade, ruff a club high, ruff a spade with D8 and DKJ will win two of the last three tricks.

 

Hand for 23rd January 2021:

                                                       North:      S      9   5

                                                                        H      A  Q  10  9  5

                                                                        D      J

                                                                        C     10  9    8   6  5

 

                                                       South:      S      K   7   3

                                                                        H       8   6   2

                                                                        D       A   6   3

                                                                        C       A   K   7  4

 

West opens 1S, partner at favourable vulnerability bids 2S (Michaels' Cue-Bid showing 5/5 Hearts and a minor), and you jump to game with 4H.       West leads CQ.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st January 2021

 It is quite likely on the bidding that West holds SKQ10xx and HK so it is vital to keep East off lead to avoid a damaging second spade through your SAJ.        To that end you duck SK and DQ, winning trick 3 with DK (both opponents following twice).       If clubs are 3/2 you have no problems making your contract as you can just give up a fourth diamond to set up dummy's D6 for your ninth trick whoever has the fourth diamond.        However, if West has the singleton club, you must be careful to discover it on the second round to retain an entry to dummy for the fifth diamond as it will then be West that has the diamond length.       Therefore the recommended line is to cash CK and lead a second club to dummy's CQ.       Were the clubs 3/2 then you would cash CA to remove West's possible third club but retaining C7 as a late entry for the fifth diamond.         In either case, you cash DA and another (discarding two hearts) but, on winning the D10, West is end-played to lead a heart into HAQ or a spade into SAJ.      If West has a doubleton diamond and four clubs you CK and another club and settle for one off (as although a heart or spade gives you are trick it is only your eighth trick).

 

Hand for 22nd January 2021:

                                                        North:      S      A  10  9  3

                                                                         H      9   8   7  2

                                                                         D      A  Q   6

                                                                         C      8   2

 

                                                         South:     S      6

                                                                         H      A   K   4

                                                                         D      K   J   8   4   3

                                                                         C      A   9   7   5

 

You open 1D, West makes a take-out double, partner bids 1H, you rebid 2C, partner jumps to 3D and you sign off with a bid of 5D.        West leads CK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 20th January 2021:

On a 3-3 trump break you would have nine top tricks with the tenth coming from the 13th club or heart or the heart finesse.    However, the odds of this trump break plus the opposition bidding suggest there is a trump loser (and hopefully not two!).       In this situation you will have to lose a trick before drawing three rounds of trumps as you cannot afford West to draw your last trump and cash diamond winners.       If clubs are 3-3 you want to be able to lead the thirteenth club not caring whether it is ruffed by the master trump or not.      It should be clear then that you cannot leave the chance of the heart finesse until late in the play.      The best plan is thus to win CK at trick 1, cross to SQ and take an immediate heart finesse.        When it wins you can then cash SAK and play C10 to West's CJ.       West can cash SJ and force you to ruff a diamond with your last trump but you have time to test both hearts and clubs and if one of them breaks 3-3 you have enough tricks for your contract.        If East is 4-4 in clubs and hearts then a simple squeeze will be possible.

 

Hand for 21st January 2021:

                                                    North:       S       6   5

                                                                      H      10  6

                                                                      D       A   6  4  3  2

                                                                      C       A   Q  7  5

 

                                                     South:      S       A   J   9

                                                                       H       A   Q  5  3

                                                                       D       K   8

                                                                       C       K   6   4  2

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner jumps to 3C and you sign off with 3NT.        West leads SK which you duck and follows with DQ which you also duck and win DJ continuation with DK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th January 2021:

      West leads three top diamonds against your 4H game and you ruff the third round.       You have an easy eleven tricks if trumps and hearts both break normally (i.e. 3/2).        However, this collectively is less than an even chance and so you should play carefully to make ten tricks.       As the opening bid by West suggests that the spade finesse will fail, the proper sequence of play is to first start with HAQ.      If trumps are 3/2 you should draw the last outstanding trump and duck a club in both hands, eventually throwing three spades on CAKQ86.       If trumps are 4-1 you leave the HQ alone in dummy and cash clubs from the top and give up if the second round is ruffed.        Otherwise, the defender with the long trumps can ruff in on the third or fourth round of clubs but can do no damage as you can ruff a diamond exit in hand (or win SA) and cross to HQ before taking your three spade discards on the clubs.

 

Hand for 20th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S      Q   6

                                                                       H      5    3   2

                                                                       D      10  5   3   2

                                                                       C       A   6   4   3

 

                                                      South:      S       A   K  5   4  3

                                                                        H      A   K  J   8

                                                                        D      Q

                                                                        C      K  10  2

 

You open 1S, partner bids 1NT, East doubles for take-out, you bid 3H, partner bids 3S and you sign off in 4S. 

West leads C7 (East contributing CQ).         Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th January 2021:

       You naturally win the SJ lead in hand to preserve an entry to dummy in order to cash later club tricks.        However a count of your potential tricks should dissuade you from leading a club at trick 2.        This is because - if you play a club straight away - a second spade lead will present you with a dilemma.        If you take it in hand then you have no entry to the two heart winners you can set up by dislodging HA because DAQ are likely to be with the opening bid and West will be able to cash spade winners before you make a third round diamond trick by force.       Alternatively, if you take the second spade in dummy, you will have to cash your club winners immediately or lose them as you have no further entry to dummy.                     Therefore you must lead HK at trick 2, win the spade continuation in hand, cash HQ only - you cannot afford to lose two hearts, two diamonds and CA - and then play on clubs.       The contract will only then be at risk if East can hold up CA for four rounds.       Otherwise, you chalk up 3 spades, 1 heart and five clubs for your nine-trick contract.

Hand for 19th January 2021:

                                                       North:      S      8  

                                                                        H     Q  6  4

                                                                        D    10  7  4

                                                                        C     A  K  Q  8  6  3

 

                                                       South:      S     A  Q  7 5

                                                                        H     A  K  8  7  2

                                                                        D     J   5

                                                                        C     4  2

 

West opens 1D, partner makes a jump overcall of 3C, you bid 3H and partner bids 4H.

West leads three top diamonds (East following).        Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th January 2021:

         West leads SQ to your 5H contract and you win SA perforce and cash HA and HQ (East discarding a spade on the second round).       It seems a reasonable move to cash SK discarding a diamond and run the C10 playing for split honours but if the diamond exit then loses a club exit then forces you to finesse clubs again whereas the diamonds might be 3-3 and provide a discard for your potentially losing club.        You could improve on this by winning the second trump in hand and taking an immediate diamond finesse and then you can throw a diamond on SK and ruff a diamond to see if they are 3-3 before playing on clubs.         The winning play, however, is to cash DA, discard a diamond on SK and lead a low diamond from the dummy.        If West wins the trick then any exit gives you your eleventh trick since a club allows to to win two club tricks by force and youu can just cover any diamond led by West to set up DQ or the thirteenth diamond by ruffing out DK.         Similarly, if East wins the trick you can throw a club on a low diamond exit and throw a second club on the then set up DQ and if East exits with a club you play low and West has to give you a trick as above.

 

Hand for 18th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S      A  6  4

                                                                       H      3

                                                                       D      6   4  3

                                                                       C      K  Q  J 10  9  5

                   

                                                      South:      S      K  Q  2

                                                                       H      K  Q  J   5  2

                                                                       D      K   J 10  8

 

West opens 1S, partner overcalls 3C, you bid 3H, partner bids 3S and you bid 3NT.      West leads SJ.     Plan the play.    

Analysis for 16th January 2021:

        West leads DJ against your 3NT but East wins DK and returns D2 suggeating that the diamonds are 6-2.         West is bound to have CA & SK to add up to an opening bid, so your prospects are poor.       It is no good to concede a spade to West as a third diamond leaves you with only eight tricks.      The only hope for the contract is that West has SKx and HQJx which is quite likely as this with CAQ adds up to 13hcp with East having the remaining 3hcp (DK).       You should win DQ,  finesse H10 and run S10.       If this holds you have to lead S3 to SA and cash all your spades as this is the only way to make the contract.

 

Hand for 17th January 2021:

                                                      North:      S     K   4

                                                                       H     Q  10  8  3

                                                                       D     A   Q  8  2

                                                                       C     10  9  3

 

                                                      South:      S      A

                                                                       H      A  K  J  6  4  2

                                                                       D      6   4   3

                                                                       C      A   J   5