Maritha Pottenger

Hand #6

North: Q9 KQ AJ97654 98

South: KJ6 A964 KQ10 A42

On this hand, 12 pairs played 3NT. Seven pairs made 6, with a spade lead. Five pairs made 5, with a club lead. Two pairs were in 6NT which is NOT the best slam as it fails on a club lead, but both pairs escaped that fatal lead, so made 6NT. Three pairs were in 6 which is the best slam as it always makes 6.

The auction at our table went 1NT by South and North bid 2NT which was alerted as a transfer to diamonds. South bid 3 which was alerted as showing four diamonds or three diamonds to an honor, without which opener would rebid 3. North now made a mild slam try with 3 which could be first or second round control by agreement. South cooperated with 3, also first or second round control. North bid 4. This is NOT Minorwood in this partnership, just waiting for more information from partner and clearly worried about clubs as North has bypassed 4. South now bid 5 and North bid 6.

The club lead, which kills 6NT, does not hurt 6. Simply take the A and play two rounds of diamonds (pulling trumps). Unblock the KQ of hearts. Return to South hand with a diamond and cash the A, discarding Dummy's the 9. Then force out the A. Making 6.

Hand #2 (rotated)

Nine N-S pairs tried 6 on this hand. Seven were down one; one was down two; one was down three. One E/W pair was -800 in 4, doubled. Six pairs played in 4, four of them making 5 and two of them making 4. One pair did not get to game. The double dummy Deep Finesse calculation assures us that 6 is makeable, but the timing is very difficult to work out.

The auction at our table went: 2 by West and double by North. East raised gently to 3 (on almost nothing) and South bid 4. At that point, North jumped to 6.

The opening lead is the singleton 9, won in hand with the K.

Declarer's tricks include: 2 top clubs, 2 top diamonds, 1 top spade and 2 top hearts. Declarer can ruff two clubs in the hand in order to develop the fifth club. That brings in three more tricks. Theoretically, Declarer can ruff two spades in the dummy for two more tricks, which brings the total to 12 tricks, but timing is an issue. You cannot ruff more than one spade in dummy before pulling two rounds of trumps lest East overruff. You would like play a low diamond toward dummy's A so that West will have to discard (because if West ruffs, you get rid of dummy's diamond loser), but you cannot do that before you have ruffed two clubs, or West will discard a club and overruff your third round of clubs.

All successful lines eventually require finessing against the Q. For example, win the lead in hand, play the club to the A, ruff a club low in hand, run the J and 10, cash the A, ruff a spade to return to dummy, ruff another club with the remaining 8 in hand.

Now a diamond towards dummy's A in thrusts West on Morton's Fork. If West discards, take the A, pull the outstanding Q, cash the clubs, and concede the final diamond trick. If he ruffs with the last trump, discard your losing diamond from dummy, ruff the spade return, and cash out.

There are variants depending on when the A is cashed and whether West chooses to cover with the Q on the first or second round of trump. But all lines involve ruffing two small clubs in hand while keeping the K until later to set up your fifth club, ruffing one spade in dummy strictly for transportation, and the Morton's Fork play in diamonds. In essence, you take five clubs tricks, four tricks with dummy's trump (one via a finesse, and another via a spade ruff), two top diamonds, and one top spade. On other opening leads, cashing the K leads to the same line of play.

Trump on this hand are adequate but overworked. It is impossible to both setup clubs and draw trump. In some sense, drawing two rounds of trump via the trump finesse, isolates the high defensive trump in the West hand, rectifying the position for the Morton's Fork.