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Overcoming a Blocked Suit by R. Pavlicek

Today’s deal occurred in a secondary event of  the 2009 Fall North American Championships in San Diego, in which most of the participants were average players. The bidding was the same at most tables: North opened with a preemptive bid of three diamonds and South signed off in three notrump.

None Vul.

8 2
A K 7 6 5 3 2
8 6 4
K 7 2
Q 10 5 4
Q J 7 5 2
  J 10 6 5 3
J 9 6
Q 4
K 9 3
  A Q 9 8
A K 7 3
10 9 8
  A 10
West North East South
  3 Pass 3NT
The End      

Lead: 5

At first glance it appears that 11 tricks are available — one spade, two hearts, seven diamonds, and one club; but a closer look reveals the blockage in the diamond suit.

After the club-five lead to the king and ace, the play took several paths. At one table declarer tried to run the diamonds by cashing the ace-king, only to leave four good diamonds stranded in dummy.

At another table declarer did better by ducking the second round of diamonds to East’s queen. This allowed the diamond suit to be run; but alas, the opponents won four clubs and one diamond to defeat the contract.

Is there a solution? Yes

Click here to read the solution


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