Open Heart Surgery (Le Bridgeur Magazine No. 916)

2017 World Vice-Champion Jérôme Rombaut writes a column in the French magazine “Le Bridgeur” every two months. In the article below, published in issue 915 of the magazine (May/June 2018), Jérôme analyses a deal from one of the first rounds of the national final of the Mixed Fours played by his opponents were Florence and Stéphane Garcia. His partner was Vanessa Réess.

Final of the Excellence Mixed Four

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It seems in the bag and suddenly something unexpected threatens your contract. Look at things calmly and remember the bidding and lead. You are now back and ready to win… 

Here is a deal from one of the first rounds of the national final of the Mixed Fours. My opponents were Florence and Stéphane Garcia. My partner was Vanessa Réess. My hand in South is:

H K 10 5
D A K 10 9 8 6 5 

The bidding goes:

Sud Ouest Nord Est

(*)5/5 Hearts/Clubs

I’m surprised to see my opponent Florence leading the ♣2. The dummy spreads his hand.

S Q J 7 6 2
H 9 8
D 7 3 
C K Q 5 3
H K 10 5
D A K 10 9 8 6 5

I play low and after much consideration, Stéphane follows with the 8. I take the first trick with the Jack of Clubs and I cash the Ace and King of Diamonds. Unfortunately, East discards a heart on the second round and I give the lead back to West to establish the suit. West plays the 7 of Clubs to dummy’s Queen and East’s Ace. I should be able to make my contract. I can afford to give away two hearts, one diamond and one club. When it will be my turn to play again, I will take nine tricks: six diamonds, one club and two spades.

Wait a minute! What do you discard on this second round of Clubs?

Before discarding, you need to know who holds the Ace of Hearts. Had he had the Ace of Clubs and the Ace, Queen and Jack of Hearts, East would have definitely opened. If West had an honour in Hearts, wouldn’t he have led a heart instead? Anyway, with the Ace and Queen of Hearts or the Ace and Jack of Hearts, it is likely that East would have taken the first trick in Clubs to counterattack in Hearts. So you can reasonably think that West has the Ace of Hearts and East has the Queen and Jack of Hearts. If you want to win, don’t play hearts. Otherwise, East will play his Queen of Hearts and you will lose four tricks. Just throw a master card in Diamonds (or in Spades). 

East will be obliged to play spades to avoid giving you your ninth trick immediately. You will then be able to cash your seven tricks (Ace-King of Spades and five tricks in Diamonds) and will continue with a small heart.

East will take dummy’s 9 with his Jack but when he will play hearts with two cards left, you will pass the 10 to cash your King.

East’s hand and West’s hand

S 10 8 5 4 3
H A 6 3
D Q 4 2
C7 6 2
orientation S 9 3
H Q J 7 4 2 
C A 10 9 8 4

As the opponents played and made the 3♦ contract at the other table, we scored 10 IMPs on the deal.

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