Three interesting hands from the 10:00 am session at the San Diego Sectional, August 18, 2018.
Hand #12 was a discarding issue. You hold: ♠QJ84 ♥Q54 ♦10754 ♣95. LHO opens 1♥. Partner passes. RHO bids 1♠. You pass. 2♣ on your left. Pass. 3NT on your right. You lead the ♦4 and Dummy produces: ♠105 ♥AK1083 ♦9 ♣AQJ106. Partner plays King and Declarer takes Ace. Then Declarer plays club to the Queen, the ♣A, and returns a club to the King. Partner plays the 4 then the ♣3 and then discards the ♦2. On the third round of clubs, you discard a heart. Why? Declarer is known to have four spades, so you must keep parity with his spades. Partner is known to have three spades and two clubs. Partner is likely to be 4-4 in the red suits, so Declarer is likely to have a singleton heart. Partner will have ♥Jxxx, so you can safety unguard your ♥Q. Plus, partner's discard of the ♦2 should be current count, indicating that he started with four diamonds, again marking Declarer with a 4-1-4-4 hand.
Hand #20 was torturous for both Declarer and defenders. You held ♠Q9632 ♥10753 ♦J62 ♣9 and RHO opened 1♠. (You and partner pass throughout.) LHO bid 1NT (Forcing). RHO bid three diamonds. LHO bid 3♥ and RHO bid 3NT. You partner led, of course, the ♣6. Dummy had: ♠KJ754 ♥A ♦AQ106 ♣KJ5. Declarer thought for quite awhile and finally called for the Jack from Dummy which won. Declarer then cashed the ♥A and partner showed three hearts with her count card. [When Dummy or Declarer initiates a suit, if you are not winning the trick, you are giving count!] Declarer then led a low spade from Dummy. You ducked and Declarer played the ♠10 while your partner won the Ace. Partner played the ♣A. Declarer thought a long time and finally played low from Dummy as you discarded a discouraging diamond. Partner now played the ♣4 and you discarded a low spade. Declarer played the ♦A and the ♦Q, smothering your Jack. Declarer played the 4 and then the ♦8. Partner thought awhile and took the ♦K and returned the ♦9 to the 10 on dummy. COUNT! Partner has shown five clubs (leading 6 and then playing 4). She gave you a count of three hearts. She could not find another spade to lead when you are marked with spades behind Dummy. She must have started with four diamonds, which means Declarer began with only two diamonds. Partner is locking Declarer in Dummy so that he cannot reach the good hearts in his hand. Forget about keeping parity with Declarer's hearts. Your ONLY task is to retain the Queen and the ♠9 over Dummy's ♠J7 in order to defeat the contract.
Hand #6 was a Declarer play challenge. You hold ♠AKQ104 ♥QJ9 ♦62 ♣Q103 and open 1♠ (after RHO passes as Dealer). LHO passes and partner bids 1NT (forcing). You bid 2♣ and partner bids 3♠—showing a limit raise (8 losers) with 3 trumps. You bid 4♠. The lead is the ♥8 and Dummy surfaces with ♠J95 ♥A6532 ♦J954 ♣A. The heart lead is good news/bad news. If that is top of a doubleton, you are home free even if you lose to the King of your right, because you can pull trumps, unblock the hearts, and discard minor-suit losers on the good hearts. These opponents lead third-best, so the lead could be from ♥K108 with RHO having a doubleton, or from ♥K1087, with RHO having a singleton. If RHO has a doubleton, you are still home free. If RHO has a singleton, things are dire. For that matter, if LHO has a singleton, things are dire. So, you duck the heart in Dummy as your best chance. The ♥4 shows up on your right and you win with your ♥9. If hearts are 3-2, you are still safe, but in case they are 4-1, you must start cutting communication between the two opponents, so that RHO [hopefully] cannot get two heart ruffs. So, you play a club to Dummy's singleton Ace and play a low diamond from Dummy. Diamonds is their communication suit for giving each other heart ruffs, so you want to eliminate them as quickly as possible. RHO plays the Queen (obviously splitting from KQx; you duck; LHO thinks a bit and overtakes with the ♦A and plays the ♥7. You duck and RHO ruffs as you were afraid he would. However, you are still alive as RHO has the other high diamond. He proceeds to cash the ♦K—not the best defense. His best defense would be to play a spade, eliminating ruffs in Dummy. You could ruff one club, but then would have to play another diamond, which he could take. A second round of spades from RHO and you are left with a club loser. He did play a spade AFTER cashing the ♦K, but I simply took that in my hand, ruffed one club on Dummy, cashed the ♦J for a club discard, and pulled trumps.