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Playing at a matchpoint Swiss pairs event yesterday, I played this hand as north.enter image description here

Our auction went 1♤-2♢-2♡-3NT-4♡. I had difficulty choosing what to bid over 3NT. South could have bid the fourth suit to look for a major fit so I knew I would likely be playing in a seven card fit. What action would you take and why?

I also found the play interesting. East lead ♡10, Q - K - A. I then made a plan for the play: ♤ AK, ♤ ruff, ♧AK, ♧ruff high, ◇A,◇ruff low and then get a trick from ♡8x (since the lead makes it look like the Jack is onside). Roughly I need 4-3 spades, 4-2 diamonds, 4-3 or 2=5 clubs. Is there a better line of play?

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    You could pass 3NT. Your line of play looks pretty reasonable. – Aryabhata Apr 12 '18 at 1:49
  • With your previous bids, you can go for 4NT (BlackWood ask for A) and then play 5NT. – iBug Apr 20 '18 at 3:39
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    @iBug Without a suit agreed I would suggest 4NT is a quantative invite to 6NT. If 4NT was asking for aces, I can't sign off in 5NT as this is would ask for kings. – Bysshed Apr 22 '18 at 23:32
  • @Bysshed: In some blackwood variations, if the auction goes 4NT - 5C/5D/5H - 5S, the 5S bid is a transfer to 5NT. (which you would then pass) – user7583 Jun 1 '18 at 8:53
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You could attack Diamonds before touching clubs, while the A♧ is still an entry to south. This sets up a long diamond, but it works only if the opp with short diamonds is also short in trump. On the actual lie, the long diamonds will be trumped.

You don't mention it, but on your line a diamond must have been discarded on the second club trick so that the second diamond can be trumped.

You also don't mention but in the 4-card ending when you hold ♤Tx ♡8x in the north hand, (after the Diamond ruff) you must lead a spade so that the opponets will have to lead trump into your 8x. This works on the actual lie.

I don't see a celarly better line of play.

On bidding, I agree with the comment that you could stop in 3NT. But on the actual lie, i don't see a play for 9 tricks, with neither black suit breaking favorably.

And I don't see a good reason to try for slam over 3NT. It certainly doesn't work on the actual lie, but with no running suit and no more than 28 HCP between the hands, it is hard to see how slam is plausible. Also the 3NT bid seems to deny any slam inters.

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Duck the HK on trick 1; smoooooothly.

The lead has revealed both that HJ is in West, and that West has the long trumps (as East would have lead a low Heart with length

West's options are now:

  • Continues a low Heart.
    Win low, cash HA and lead a low Spade to the 9to set up a third Spade trick.

  • Continues HJ.
    Win with HA, cash H8 and H9 and lead a low Spade to the 9, as above.

  • Lead a Club.
    Win in Dummy and lead a low Diamond to the Q.

  • Lead a low Dimaond.
    Win in hand, cash two clubs and lead a heart from Dummy for the finesse.

  • Lead Diamond King.
    Win in Dummy and lead a low Heart for the finesse.

  • Lead a Spade.
    Ride to the 9.

By retaining control of the Heart suit after the initial duck at Trick 1 you give opponents a tough time to determine a winning defense without the additional information of knowing what suit you are going to try and set up (Spades).

After the Duck you hope to establish 3 or 4 Hearts, 3 Spades, 2 Diamonds (since DK is onside) and 2 Clubs for 10 or 11 tricks.


On the bidding I see no issue with either passing 3NT or the actual call of 4H. A gross misfit is revealed - but it is more evident to both you and partner than to the opponents. Any further action will only raise the auction, reveal the extent of the misfit to opponents, entice a penalty double, and assist the defense in their play. Time to get out.

  • West's best play is a low heart, seems to me, which takes away the ruff in dummy and gives them a pretty straightforward route to 4 tricks (heart, diamond, two more black suit tricks). You need that ruff in dummy for transportation to try and develop the Qd as a trick (which you can). In fact, West likely gets a second heart trick - you're forced to win with the 8 after the lead, which means West has J6 around your A9, and you can't really do a ruffing finesse here, or at least not more than one, so you will likely lose a second heart as well - for down 2 or 3. – Joe Oct 15 at 21:16
  • @Joe: No. Double Dummy is only 9 tricks for NS, so let's get those. Win heart return; cross to CA; rough small club; cross to DA; win CK; rough small club; cash SA & SK and exit small Spade with 8 tricks in and Heart A in hand for #9. Down 1, the double dummy result. – Forget I was ever here Oct 15 at 22:07
  • Double dummy, sure, but I don't think you do that in real play (and the question is not about double dummy play). – Joe Oct 16 at 14:28

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