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F.Fantoni: A Board from the French DN1 Final

The final phase of DN1 finished and for the first time in three years we could win versus Laffineur team.
The final gave us a very interesting board that I decided to illustrate it in detail.



So the contract of 6 is reached. The eventual A lead would be fatal to the declarer, as happened in the other room.

I was luckier as I got the 4 lead. Now let’s imagine to play the hand together. We have some different possibilities:

1) First possibility. We take with the A, play two times Diamonds so eliminating trumps (which are 2-1) and then we play K and Q discarding the Heart loser.

Now we ruff a Heart and play Clubs to the Q hoping for a successfull finesse. If K is well placed we realize 12 tricks, otherwise we go down because we still have a Club loser (unless K is alone in West’s hand and West has 3 only Spades, because in this case he would be forced to play Hearts and we could ruff and discard, so creating the 12th trick. Spes ultima dea, but this is a really fat chance)

2) Second possibility. We take with the A, cash an only Diamond (because in order eliminate both Hearts and Spades we need to keep enough communications between hand and dummy), play K (hoping that are not 6-1) and then small Spades ruffed with the 10. Now we play another Diamond to reach dummy and to eliminate the opponents’ trumps. Then Q, on which we discard the Heart loser. We ruff a Heart to eliminate Hearts, so reaching this situation:


Now we go for Clubs finesse and if it fails we go down, unless West has K alone. If he does, he can only play for our ruff and discard. So we are back to the final of the previous possibility but we have improved that hypothesis thanks to the elimination of the fourth Spade in West’s hand.


3) Third possibility. We take with the A, play Diamonds twice and then K and Q on which we discard a Heart. Now we ruff a Heart and play Clubs to the Ace, ruff a Spade and play Clubs again. If East plays a little Club, we play the Queen and if West doesn’t have the K we realize 12 tricks. If West on the contrary has the K we still have the chance that he doesn’t have any more Clubs and is forced to play for our ruff and discard (Kx at the beginning). The final of this possibility is the same of the first and of the second ones, but obviously cashing the A before taking the finesse increased a lot the chances to succeed because in this case we succeed if K is well placed, if K is alone and also if K is not well placed and West started with Kx.

4) Fourth possibility. We play for four Spades in West’s hand. We take the lead with the A and we play Diamonds only once (because we need to keep the communications between hand and dummy). Now in order to endplay West with the fourth Spade we need to be sure that we can cash AKQ without suffering any ruff, so that we can discard the Heart on the third Spade, ruff a Heart, play trumps in order to go back to dummy so eliminating the last Diamond and play the fourth Spade on which West can play his fourth Spade and we discard the Club. We have to be careful: we can’t play Diamonds twice before cashing the three Spades, otherwise we won’t have enough entries to eliminate Hearts and play Spades for the endplay. This plan is very dangerous because the opponent could ruff the second or more probabily the third Spade so beating the contract. An analysys of opponents’ cards is crucial here.

The lead was 4 (third or fifth, also known as «paire – impaire»). This kind of leads works this way:

  • with two cards you lead the highest
  • with three cards you lead the smallest independently of the honors
    For example, with 7 6 5 with the 5 – with K 7 5 with the 5 – with 10 4 2 with the 2
  • with four cards you lead with the third highest card independently of the honors:
    For example, with: 9 6 5 2 with the 5 – with Q 7 5 3 with the 5 – with K 10 6 4 with the 6
  • with five cards you lead with the smallest
    For example, with 9 8 7 5 3 with the 3 – with K Q 6 4 2 with the 2

Now that we recalled the leads, let’s go back to our situation. Up to now we could see these Spades:


Let’s consider a statistical information: we are unlikely to find Spades 6-1.
So, after taking the lead with A and cashing a Diamond, we can play anther Spade in order to see the opponents’ discards and understand which is the best line of play:


Now everything is clear: math says that East has 3 or 4 Spades and consequently that West has 3 or 4 Spades, too. Got it?
If East had two only Spades, so 5 and 4, he would lead with the 5 and not with the 4. If he had 5 Spades he would then have J6543 (West played the 8 and the 10) but then he would lead with the 3. So unless a devilish bluff lead, we can serenely place 3 or 4 Spades in East and 3 or 4 Spades in West. This means that the third Spade «shouldn’t» be ruffed. So let’s try to verify our analysis and above all to see if Michel’s lead was not a bluff. We cash the third Spade on which we discard the Heart loser and this is the situation:


So, after three Spades, the only missing Spade is 3. One of the two fierce opponents is hiding it so that we can’t know who has 4 cards. In fact, if East had played the 3, he would have shown to have 4 cards because the lead was 4 (third of four cards) and if West had played the 3 he would have shown to have four cards because the 4 would be the smallest card in play (then the smallest of three cards). With J654 East would have led with the 5.

And so this is the crucial point: who has 4 Spades? Who is inducing us to miss the air?
We are in this situation:

mano32 2

and we are at dummy. If we count on the fourth Spade in West’s hand, we have to play Spades in order to endplay him (he would be forced to play Clubs for dummy’s AQ or Hearts for our ruff and discard). If we count on the fourth Spade in East’s hand, we have to cash the A and then ruff a Spade, so taking the extra-chance of the Kx outside.
If we count on the fourth Spade in West, we can’t cash the A otherwise the K becomes good.

Well, I finally decided to play for the fourth Spade in West because I thought that with three Spades Thomas would try to fool me.
Suspance… Yes !!! Bessis junior had four Spades and with his discards he had tried to confuse us. Now I just had to give him that trick and he had to play for my ruff and discard.

Anyway I must tell you that the K was second in West’s hand, so playing A, ruffing a Spade and playing Clubs to the Q would have been successful as well.


Very hard-earned board, but we did it.
See you soon 😉


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