When the suit you are developing happens to be in the weaker of the two hands, that hand will need an entry to reach the winners later. Make absolutely sure you have one!
This month's Challenge Hand was given to us by GeO Tislevoll, a world-class player and teacher who focusses on how to think about a hand and make the most of our tricks.
As always, you will need an account with Joan Butts Bridge to play this hand. If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up at joanbuttsbridge.com/join
Once you have played the hand, close the hand and scroll down to watch the walkthrough video. Finally, don’t forget to leave a comment about this hand and how you fared!
Here's what GeO has to say about the hand:
North has enough for game opposite a 15-17NT. If the partnership plays Puppet Stayman (an enquiry about five card majors), North would do that in case there's a 5-3 fit in spades. But there's not, so the final contract is 3NT.
Play: West leads the ♠️7.
There is a classic trap here, and a typical error may happen at trick one! Therefore, always take some time to plan the hand. Declarer knows they need diamond tricks, and when the suit to establish is not in the stronger hand, be careful to keep an entry to the suit you're trying to establish!
On the ♠️7 lead from West , low from dummy, East plays the ♠️9, and South…?
If declarer plays the ♠️J which seems natural (a cheap trick), the remaining singleton ♠️A is blocking so there is no entry to North via the ♠️K. This is only a problem when an opponent has ♦️Axx and ducks twice! If that happens, there will be no entry to North after the diamonds are established.
Declarer will take two diamond tricks only, instead of five certain diamond tricks if they avoid the temptation to win the first spade trick cheaply with the ♠️J. So... carefully wins the ♠️A at trick one, thus preserving the ♠️K as a certain entry to the diamonds later. Note that this play is 100% safe. You will score 2+1+5+2 = 10 tricks.
Tip for the declarer: When planning your play, consider if you have an entry to the tricks you want to establish.
Tip for the defenders: When declarer tries to establish a suit, make it hard for them to cross over to the the hand where the established tricks are (here: duck the diamonds twice).