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47 - MARCH 2024

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ENTRY MANAGEMENT [PART 1]

In No-Trump contracts, just like in suit contracts, it is necessary for declarer to carefully manage communications between the two hands. The slightest approximation can prove fatal. Many declarers rapidly let their guard down when they have a long suit that seems to be running. Yet, some cards – invisible at first – can get in the way of this gold mine. In that case, to make the contract, declarer has to get rid of these obstacles.

Lead: ♠K.

WNES
2NT
Pass3NT

After the Spade lead, you can’t afford to give the lead back to your opponents, so you must win the first nine tricks. At first glance, this mission seems simple: one Spade, three Hearts and five Diamonds. A 4-0 split in Diamonds would mean defeat, but let’s not dwell on this insoluble case and consider a more friendly break. Without a side entry, you must win the fourth round of Diamonds in dummy in order to be able to then enjoy the fifth and last Diamond. In case of a 3-1 split (most likely), you won’t have the luxury of keeping the Queen until the last moment, so all your hopes will rest on the 6 of Diamonds! If you played carelessly, you’d probably find yourself with no recourse when, at the fateful moment, you are looking at the 8 or 7 in your hand. You need to anticipate and get rid of the 8 and 7 on dummy’s Ace and Queen. The 6 will then hold the trick when you play your carefully preserved 5.

BUT BREAKING FREE FROM THESE OBSTRUCTIONS SOMETIMES REQUIRES MORE IMAGINATION…

WNES
1NT
2♠3NT

Lead: ♠K.

How do you react?

The situation resembles the first one that we studied in the introduction. Once the Ace of Spades is gone, you are not allowed any more to lose a trick and give up the lead. This time you cannot count on dummy’s Diamond 6 to win the fourth round of the suit – all your “small” cards are higher… Only discarding one of these obstacles can unblock the suit. The solution: duck the first two rounds of Spades and then discard one of your Diamonds on the Ace. The road is clear!

WNES
1
Pass1Pass1♠
Pass2♠Pass4♠

Lead: ♣A.
West continues with the Club King and with a third round of Clubs, which you ruff in hand.

On the second round of trump, West discards! How will you manage?

Dummy seems to be high, but on closer inspection you see that the Hearts are blocking! If you cash Ace-King-Queen of Hearts without drawing all the outstanding trumps, you risk East ruffing in. And if you draw all of East’s trumps you also use up dummy’s only entry… The solution lies somewhere in between. In order to limit the risk of losing a Heart ruff, draw only two rounds of Hearts. You can then unblock the suit at the last moment by discarding your remaining Heart (the Ace, for style’s sake) on dummy’s fourth and final trump. Clever, isn’t it?

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Julien Bernard
Articles: 12

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