guaranteed by lestercaldwell


									3NT Guaranteed

                                ♠   10 9
                                ♥   A K Q 10 2
                                ♦   6542
                                ♣   10 9
             ♠   J8752                       N     ♠ 64
             ♥   J8             W                  ♥ 976543
             ♦   AKQ7                            E ♦
             ♣   74                   S            ♣ J8532
                                ♠ AKQ3
                                ♦ J 10 9 8 3
                                ♣ AKQ6

Eddie Kantar presented this deal from Bridge D’Italia in the July 2007 ACBL Bulletin.
South is in 3NT and West leads a top Diamond, East discarding a Heart. How can South
guarantee 3NT?
This is not a composed double dummy problem, where you see all four hands and are
challenged to work out the line of play, because South does not need to know anything
more about the West and East hands after both opponents have played to the first trick. If
it’s not an “engineered” deal, we can assume that it came up in actual play.
So here you go. Look at your hand and Dummy’s, count tricks, and see if you can
guarantee nine tricks.
Time’s up; how did you do? The big snag, of course, is access to Dummy’s Hearts. If you
had one Heart, you’d have AKQ in three suits as soon as you get the lead. But you are
completely Heartless, you old Simon Legree, so you can count only six tricks, plus two
Diamonds once the ♦AKQ are gone. That’s one trick short.
The big breakthrough in thinking is to see that if West leads anything but a Diamond, you
can reach the Hearts no matter where the two black jacks are.
Suppose West leads a Spade. You play Dummy’s 9 or 10. If it holds, there are the Hearts
(four when the J falls), then back to your hand for Spades and Clubs. If East can cover
with the ♠J, you win the trick and lead your ♠3 to Dummy and enjoy the Hearts.
Exactly the same thing happens if West leads a Club. And a Heart? Well, thanks, West,
but where’s the sport?
Once you see that West is stuck when he leads anything but a Diamond, and knowing he
has four of them, the guarantee becomes a piece of cake, provided you think about all
this before you play from your hand on the first trick. Drop that little old ♦3 on the first
Diamond and you won’t make 3NT!
Yes, once you know you’re golden when West doesn’t lead Diamonds, you must see to it
that he is on lead after taking four Diamond tricks. Then he has no choice but to give you
access to Dummy. So you hold on to that ♦3 and play any three of the other Diamonds
on the AKQ. Then, when West leads the ♦7, you drop the ♦3 on it instead of taking it!
West has taken his four Diamond tricks but must now give you access to Dummy and
you have the rest.
“So what’s the point? Who would ever think to hold on to the ♦3 right at the first trick?
Cute story but it would never happen.”
Was that your reaction? Maybe you’re selling us all short, including yourself.
As the fabulous Aesop would tell you, the moral of the story is that old saw about
working out your plan before playing to the first trick. If you do, won’t you see how a
Spade or Club lead from West would guarantee access to the Hearts, and a Heart would
do it immediately? Then, when East discards on the first trick and you know precisely
that West had ♦AKQ7, is it really rocket science to conclude that West must hand you
the 3NT contract if he is allowed to take all four Diamond tricks?
The only other ingredient is to know a little about unblocking, which we all should
probably think about more often than we do. It’s simple. Once you see, before playing to
trick 1, that you want West to take his four Diamonds, the only way of letting that ♦7
win is to hold on to the ♦3 to play on it!
Put it this way: it’s a battle of wits between you and West. He wants to take three
Diamonds, then force you to be on lead with two small black card losers. You, on the
other hand, know you have your Game if he is on lead after taking four Diamonds.
Just as a magic trick doesn’t seem so magic when you learn how it works, and Dr.
Watson saw Sherlock Holmes’s logic feats as indeed elementary after they were
explained, this bridge situation evolves from “nobody would think to do that” almost all
the way to “no brainer” the more you look at it. All you have to do is carefully ask
yourself the right questions and think through the answers as soon as you see the

WJJ            July 5, 2007

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