From 4th October, 2006, Board 25
Theme Combining Chances
Dlr East N-S Vul
After Partner's optimistic bidding, how do you make 11 tricks ...
A. With the lead of the Spade 3 (4th best)?
B. With the lead of the Club 7?
You are going to need 3-2 trumps to make this, and also some luck in either the Heart suit or the Club suit. It looks better to set up Declarer's hand, that only requires Hearts to be 4-3 (a better proposition than 3-3 Clubs). In fact, once you decide to go after the Hearts, the hand almost plays itself:
Cross to the ♣A
Ruff a Heart, ruff a Spade, ruff a Heart
Ruff a Spade
The only losers are a trump and a Club.
That's all very well, now make it with the opening lead of the Club Seven. East plays the King on this trick.
Does the above line of play work after a Club lead?
No, the Club lead takes away an entry to your hand before you are ready to use it.
Can you cross-ruff the entire hand?
Yes, it's a possibility, but it requires East to have 4 Hearts, and West to have at least 4 Spades.
Any clues from the opening lead?
Yes, the Seven is the lowest outstanding Club, so surely West has led from length (unless East has false-carded with the King). If Clubs are 3-3 you can make this by setting up the Clubs.
Is there a way to combine the chances of both 3-3 Clubs and a cross-ruff?
Yes, there is. You win the opening Club lead and exit a Club. The opponents shift to a Spade, won on the board. Now you cash the ♥K, and lead a Club. If Clubs are 3-3, you cash two high Diamonds ending on the board and run the Clubs. But, if East shows out on the third round of Clubs, you can revert to a cross-ruff, hoping that East has 4 Hearts.
Suppose that East started with 4-4-3-2 shape ... on the third round of Clubs could he not pitch away a Heart and stop the cross-ruff? Yes, that would indeed stop the cross-ruff, but now Declarer needs just one Heart ruff on the board to set up that suit.
Keys to Success
- Realizing that the opening Club Seven lead is actually low (don't laugh, it looks high, some might
assume that it is)
- Combining the chances of 3-3 Clubs and a cross-ruff
Actually, if you look at the Club suit, it's hard to think of a holding where an experienced defender would lead the Club Seven and where the suit was not 3-3 (or 5-1). KT97, perhaps, but the normal lead there is the Ten or the Nine (depending on the lead agreements). Even so, no reason not to keep the options open.
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