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0002 - The Black Kings

Playing Intermediates #002 – Having intermediate cards of 10s, 9s, 8s and sometimes 7s, especially when combined with honors, give texture (body) in suits where having a holding of AQ1098 will play better than AQ1092 which will play better than  AQ1042 which will play better than AQ542. Unfortunately, it is AQ542 that are trumps in this deal.
Playing with Harrison Luba of Hilton Head Junior Bridge HHJB this deal (rotated) was played against Ron Perry and Marvin Shatz August 1, 2014 / Hilton Head Island BC.

When you look at these two hands don't you wish you could trade South's club suit holding of ♣AJ1076 with 5 hcp (probably worth 4 tricks) for North's spade suit of ♠AQ542 with 6 hcp (lucky to win 3 tricks)?

There is nothing special about this auction, after three passes South opens 1NT, and regardless of systems, all pairs should reach the contract of 4 

So, how do you play spades without intermediates?

So here is the complete deal.

With the notrump opener (strong hand) on the right, West does not want to lead a king or lead away from a king, so the  5 looks safe. Analyzing the play of the hand, surely East/West will find their heart tricks so the contact seems to hinge on finesses against the black kings (ominous). Declarer (South) wins the opening lead in hand with the  A (hiding the  K) and preserving the  Q as an entry to dummy to take a finesse against the  K.

So how does South play on spades (card combinations 101), William Root (teacher, author, etc.) says in his book How to Play a Bridge Hand that "you cannot learn to play a hand [of bridge] until you learn to play a suit." Holding J8x opposite AQxxx (missing not only the  K, but also the  10 and  9) it cannot be right to finesse the  J looking for the  K. If West covers the jack with the king then it is possible to loose 2-tricks to the  10 and  9 and in this textbook case East, in fact, holds  10976.

The correct play is a small spade to the  AQ (lead up to honors) and finesse the  Q, if the  Q wins cash the  A, hopefully dropping the  K. On this deal the  K drops right away and South only loses 1 spade trick. If South finesses the ♠J, the contract will go down 2.  Ok, so when this board was played in spades it was -1 (down one) three times and -2 (down two) four times and played in 2  two times. Down one for -100 was 4.5 matchpoints for 56.2% on this deal ... the big matchpoints were for the two part-scores (go figure).

To obtain a printable PDF file of this post click here → 20140801 0002

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