17 June 2012

How will you make 3NT?

Playing in a teams match recently the following hand came up. It's a fantastic hand to learn from and a great example of thoughtful bridge.

A Q 8
K 9
A J 8 4 3
A 5 2
K T 6 2
Q J 3 2

I sat West. South opened a 12 - 14 1NT which sent North into a fit of tsking, and umming. Finally after bidding 3NT they dumped their hand on the table with a plea that South not make 12 tricks.

The lead I made, my 4th highest spade, did not beat the tables Queen.
Now is the time, to pick the best line, how will you make 3NT?

Update: Sorry, the lead is a 4th.


  1. I do not even see the problem here ... If the 4S is a true 3rd best, then spades are split 4-3. Give up a diamond and lose the club finesse and you lose 1 diamond, 1 club and 2 spades.

    My line:

    Play a diamond to the king.

    If East wins the Ace, he will probably lead another spade. Duck it to West's king. Now, West will clear the spades. You can safely lose the club finesse now. If East has the 4th spade, you lose 2 spade, 1 diamond and 1 club. If West started with 4 spades, you make an over-trick.

    If West has the diamond ace, he'll duck. Now, come to hand with the king of hearts and take the club finesse.

  2. Just saw the update. If it's the 4th smallest spade, then West is the danger hand. My line is very similar if East has the diamond ace -- if East has a 4th spade, then West started out with 4 as well and all's safe. If East has only 3 spades, he won't have a spade to return when you lose the club finesse.

    If West has the diamond ace, he'll duck. you'll then need to play another diamond to your queen, to drive out West's ace of diamonds before you lose the club finesse to East. If West ducks the second diamond also, you are all set. Lose the club finesse now and you end up with 2 spades, 3 hearts, 2 hearts and 3 clubs.

  3. I am not sure I can see the opposing position that does not result in declarer winning nine tricks, no matter what. Perhaps I am being short-sighted?

    But still the general layout does "type" the hand a bit.

    If an objective is to avoid having RHO on lead, then just lead toward honors in your hand. That way, RHO is faced with a choice of rising with an honor (which promotes multiple secondary tricks for your side) or ducking (which either permits you to win one secondary trick right away -- thus allowing you to look to other suits with another trick already in the bag -- or places non-dangerous LHO on lead).

    So, having won trick one with dummy's SQ, let's say that you lead a small diamond toward your QJ. Again, I am not sure that type of safety is needed on this hand, but the layout sort of lends itself to that type of play.

  4. Is it a case of playing a diamond to the Q in hand at trick two?

    If east has the AD and rises immediately and plays a spade through, no matter, I have two spades, three hearts, three diamonds and a club. If east ducks, then I switch to clubs immediately and take two spades, three hearts, four clubs and my QD.

    If west has the AD then they cannot attack spades and I have the time to play on clubs.

    I'm guessing this is only necessary if east has K9xxx in clubs? Even then, surely I manage to make 10 tricks... So maybe I'm missing something.

  5. A classic avoidance play hand. The only danger on the hand is that clubs are 5-1 with East holding the king, spades are 5-2 and West has an entry with the ace of diamonds. So you need to knock out West's entry first and playing the king of diamonds, then continuing to the queen if ducked, is the safest line and also gives you a chance of making the greatest number of tricks safely.

    As a pedant, I feel obliged to note that the four of spades cannot be fourth smallest, since there are only two cards smaller than the four. It is presumably a fourth highest lead. Apologies. :)