Play Hands Based On Long Suits
From Better Bridge (9/3/14)

5 Dealer NORTH: N-S vulnerable

♠9 2
♥Q J 10 7 6
♦A Q 10 4 3
♠AKJ108 7 4 ♠Q
♥K ♥854
♦K 7 5 ♦9862
♣J2 ♣A Q 10 9 8
♠6 5 3
♥A 9 3 2
♣7654 3
1 ♥pass 2 ♥
4 ♠all pass

Lead: Q♥ Normal. With any other suit led 4 ♠ makes.

Play: South should take the ♥Q with the ace. West is marked with the king of hearts and South cannot make more tricks by playing low at trick 1. If North has led from a 5-card suit, West has the ♥K singleton. If South plays low, West scores an undeserved trick with the king and South never makes the ♥A. In fact, if South fails to play the ace of hearts at trick 1, West can win 13 tricks! After ♥A, South should switch to ♦J. South knows that West would ruff a heart continuation. West would win 12 tricks if South plays a heart at trick 2.

Reading North for the ♦A, West should duck the ♦J. North should overtake with the ♦Q, cash the ♦A and when South shows out, the diamond ruff defeats the contract.

Notes: (1) East is too weak to overcall 2♣.
A 4♥ or 4♠ pre-empt is acceptable even with 14-15 HCP after an opponent has opened the bidding. Where both opponents have bid, your chances for a slam are too remote to reject these pre-emptive game bids.
(2) North should not bid 5♥, particularly at this vulnerability. There is no need to sacrifice if you can defeat their contract. If you have reasonable defensive prospects, choose to defend rather than sacrifice.
(3) West should duck the ♦J. As North opened, the ♦A is marked with North after South won the ♥A.
(4) When South switches to the ♦J and West ducks, if North also ducks, the ♦J holds the trick. As South is unable to play a second diamond, West can discard the diamonds on dummy's clubs after drawing trumps.
(5) On seeing ♦J from partner, North should read it as a singleton or a doubleton. It cannot be a sequence lead as North holds the ♦10. As the ♦J might well be a singleton, North must overtake with the ♦Q. To overtake cannot cost if South started with two diamonds and is essential if South has a switched to a singleton.

6 Dealer EAST: E-W vulnerable

♠K 5 3
♥K Q J 10 7 2
♦K 2
♣Q 7
♠J 10 7 ♠A Q 8 6
♥9 5 3 ♥8 4
♦A 7 5 4 ♦Q J 9 8 3
♣8 6 5 ♣10 3
♠9 4 2
♥A 6
♦10 6
♣A K J 9 4 2
pass 1 ♣
pass 1 ♥ pass 2 ♣
pass 4♥all pass

Lead: ♦Q. Top of near sequence. On any lead but a diamond, 4♥ makes with overtricks.

Play: West should win trick 1 with ♦A (If not, declarer makes 12 tricks.) West should switch to ♠J. This allows the defence to cash three spade tricks to defeat the contract.

Notes: (1) 3NT might succeed but it is a riskier contract than 4♥. 3NT by South could be defeated on the ♠J lead.
(2) The ♦Q lead denied the king. When West plays ♦A and the ♦K does not fall, West knows that North still has the ♦K. As there is only one more diamond in dummy, the defence cannot come to a second diamond trick and a diamond continuation would be futile. If West plays a diamond at trick 2, North can make 12 tricks.
(3) If West switches to the ♠7 at trick 2 instead of the ♠J (an error —from j-10-x, the jack is led), North can duck this. North will then make 4♥ as the defence can take only two spade tricks. The ♠J may also be necessary from J-x-x if three spade tricks are needed urgently. Interchange the ♠6 and the ♠10 and West must switch to the jack of spades at trick 2 to defeat the contract.
(4) Note how the lead of the queen of diamonds made the defence straightforward for West.

7 Dealer SOUTH: Both vulnerable

♠J 8 7 4
♥A K
♦9 3
♣K Q 10 9 4
♠6 ♠9 3 2
♥10 8 ♥9 6 5 4 3 2
♦Q J 10 6 2 ♦A K 7
♣8 7 6 5 2 ♣A
♠A K Q 10 5
♥Q J 7
♦8 5 4
♣J 3
1 ♠
pass 3♠ pass 4♠
pass pass pass

Lead: ♦Q. Not the ♥10: prefer a sequence to a doubleton lead. Not the ♣5: prefer a suit with three honours to a suit with none.

Play: East should overtake the ♦Q with the king, cash the ♣A to create the void and return the ♦7. West wins and leads a club for East to ruff

Notes: (1) If North-South are using limit raises, North would respond 2♣ and raise South's 2♠ rebid to game. If North does bid 2♣, East should not bid 2♥. Do not overcall on poor suits.
(2) If West leads the ♥10, South can make 11 tricks: win ♥A, cash ♠A, ♠K, heart to the king, spade to the queen, cash ♥Q and discard one diamond from dummy, then lead the ♣J and continue clubs.
(3) East knows from the queen of diamonds lead that West has the jack of diamonds as well and can thus plan the above defence. With 11 HCP in hand, 13 in dummy and 3 with West via the ♦Q-J, East can tell that West cannot hold any useful high cards outside diamonds. As there are only two diamond winners and the ♣A in top cards, the fourth trick must come via a ruff.
(4) If East ducks the ♦Q lead, 4♠ cannot be defeated. West now has no entry to give East the club ruff.

8 Dealer WEST: Nil vulnerable

♠9 8 7 3 2
♥7 5 2
♦A K
♣10 9 7
♠K Q J ♠10 6 5
♥A 9 6 ♥K Q J 10 4 3
♦Q 7 5 ♦9 6 2
♣K Q 8 4 ♣A
♠A 4
♦J 10 8 4 3
♣J 6 5 3 2
1NT pass 4♥ All pass

Lead: ♦J. Top of near sequence. Not ♠A : an ace lead is unappealing and ace-doubleton with only a singleton trump is a huge gamble. Not ♥8 : a singleton trump is not recommended. Not ♣3 : prefer a suit with two honours to a suit with only one.

Play: North wins the ace of diamonds at trick one and plays the king of diamonds at trick 2. This order of play shows A-K doubleton. With A-K-x or longer, you would win the king first, not the ace. On the second round, South signals with the ten of diamonds to indicate the entry is in spades (high card/high suit, trumps excluded). If North reads the message correctly, North will switch to a spade. South wins ♠A and returns a diamond for North to ruff. One off.

Notes: (1) As it happens, East-West can make 3NT but that is hard to judge in the auction. Most partnerships would reach 4♥ which would make on many occasions where 3 NT would fail.
(2) On a club lead, East can make eleven tricks. Win ♣A, ♥K, ♥Q, heart to the ace and use the ♣K-Q to discard two diamonds.
(3) On ♠A lead, declarer can make 4♥ even if South switches to a diamond. South no longer has an entry to give North the diamond ruff.
(4) It is not relevant to this deal, but declarer should play low from dummy on the ♦J lead. The ♦Q cannot win and playing it will not promote any other card. Therefore play low and hope North has to play an honour.
(5) After ♦A-K, North cannot tell whether to return a spade or a club without South's assistance. If South held the ♣A instead of the ♠A, South would play the three of diamonds (lowest card = lowest suit).
(6) If South fails to signal correctly or North fails to read the message of the ♦10, North may fail to find the switch to spades. If so, declarer would succeed.
(7) If West happened to be declarer in 4♥ after a transfer sequence, North would lead ace-then-king of diamonds to show the doubleton. South would again signal with the highest diamond on the second round to show the entry in the high suit.

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