Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jennbridge: A Trump Coup

Here is a fun hand from the San Francisco sectional a couple of weeks ago.  My partner was Jo Ginsberg.  As dealer at unfavorable vul., I opened two spades:

♠ AQ10976
♣ J8

LHO doubled and everyone passed!  I had a little anxiety as the ace of  clubs was led and the dummy was put down:

♠ 85
♣ 754

♠ AQ10976
♣ J8

A quick assessment revealed that I only had 4 quick losers and the spades were very good--only missing the
king and jack.  The king and queen of clubs followed as RHO pitched a low diamond (ostensibly encouraging) and I ruffed.

Hoping that LHO had both diamond honors I led a diamond to the 10 and it held.  I followed this with the 5 of spades to the 6 in my hand and LHO showed out.  Not surprisingly, RHO started with KJxxx of spades.

I led another diamond and LHO played the jack and I won the queen, RHO following again.  It looks like diamonds are 3-3.  I then played the 8 of spades from the board and let it hold.  What now?

I have won 5 tricks and here are the remaining cards:


♠ AQ10

I decided to lead a heart from the board and, to my surprise, RHO won the king and cashed the ace before he continued with another heart which I ruffed.  I now played my last diamond, and as RHO was down to all trumps, he had to ruff and lead a spade into my AQ tenace!  Plus 670 was worth 21 out of 25 matchpoints.

Thinking about the hand later, I started wondering whether I really needed to risk the double finesse in diamonds and also whether they could actually beat me.  Here is the entire hand:

SF sectional

Board 6
East Deals
E-W Vul
♠ K J 4 3 2
A K 10
5 3 2
♣ Q 3
♠ 8 5
9 6 4 3
A Q 10 9
♣ 7 5 4
♠ A Q 10 9 7 6
Q 8
8 7 6
♣ J 8
♠ —
J 7 5 2
K J 4
♣ A K 10 9 6 2
2 ♠Dbl
2 ♠ x by East

As it turns out, I can always take 6 spade tricks as long as I don't do anything silly like play a high honor prematurely.  I can always take 2 diamond tricks as well, bringing the total to 8.  It is important to pay some attention to the timing, playing two rounds of spades before exiting with a red card.  But, interestingly, if these precautions are taken, the contract is cold.

The contract can be made even if the defenders manage to cash their 4 winners before I ruff in.  In that case, after ruffing in at trick 5 and playing two rounds of diamonds and two rounds of spades, as described, a heart can be led from the board to ruff and continue to shorten my trumps--the key to executing a trump coup. This leads to the same ending as above:  exit with the last diamond which RHO will ruff perforce, and win the last 2 tricks with the AQ of spades.

One last scenario:  If the opponents cash their 4 winners and shift to a diamond, the timing for the trump coup will be destroyed, but I'll be able to take 3 diamond tricks and 5 trump tricks--losing a trump trick at the end. 

See you at the table!


Anonymous said...

They have to lead three clubs and pitch a diamond to beat this, else you can win three diamonds and five spades easily.

R. Williams

Jennifer Jones said...

That's what they did--led 3 clubs and pitched a diamond--that didn't work. When I originally posted this hand I thought they could beat me by cashing 4 winners and shifting to a diamond, but even that isn't true, so I changed the last paragraph.

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