Spot Cards and Hand Evaluation – Part 2

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Spot cards play more of a role than most players give them credit for.

Mike Lawrence
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Source: ACBL 2007 Bulletins

You can read Part I…Clicking Here

  Both sides vulnerable.

  Spot cards play more of a role than most players give them credit for. The South hand offers a little test involving spot cards. Note especially South’s 9 and 8.

East opens 1 and South bids 1. North 3 bid shows at least a shapely limit raise and promises four trumps. South has a balanced hand, but he has good values and is comfortable going to game. North discounts his Q so is not interested in going higher.

West leads the J. South is safe for 10 tricks, but there are various lines to try to make an overtrick. Do you see a way to get two heart tricks?

If South is aware of his 9 and 8, he can cover with the queen and win East’s king with the ace. Now, after drawing trumps, he can give up a heart trick to the 10 and will discard a diamond from dummy if West doesnt find the diamond switch. This line might end up losing just one heart and one diamond.

South went for it and played the queen from dummy. East covered and South followed his plan. There was a snag, though. West had the 10, not that big a surprise, but when East won the next heart trick, the diamond switch got the defense two diamond winners. The complete deal: South had a good idea but there was a better one. South knows that East has the K. – no doubt about this. If South gives up the lure of the heart spots, he can make 11 tricks by using the information that East has the K.

Keep the queen in dummy and win the A at trick one. Draw trumps, East has two, West one. Now play the club suit. On the third club, discard a heart. The point is that after South ruffs the last club in his hand, he can throw East in with his K. East is endplayed and has to give a sluff and a ruff or lead to dummy’s K.

Note, for the record, that if West has the K, South can make an extra trick by playing the queen at trick one. If there had been no bidding, playing the queen could be correct. Here, there is conclusive evidence that East has that card: East opened the bidding. You can see 27 points in your band and dummy. This leaves only 13 points for the opponents. East’s, opening bid must include the K. As an aside, if the opening lead had been a low heart, you should play in the recommended fashion. Knowing where the high cards are helps.

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