March 2019 Challenge Hand


Sometimes the suit you work on as declarer is determined by how much time you have to develop suits, and whether the opponents are able to set up their suit through promotion or length before you can. The “C” of the plan = Consider the order of play, is absolutely necessary on this month’s Challenge Hand!

This hand was created by young Australian champion, Matt Smith. 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

Once you have played the hand, close the hand and scroll down to read the explanation of the hand. Finally, don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to enter the competition to win a print by my brother, James McKeon. You can find all the details below.

Hand Review

With this hand, you appear to have two choices for developing the extra tricks, either clubs or diamonds. Let’s consider the ABC.

A (Count your Assets):
There are five winners; three in spades, one in hearts and one in diamonds. You need to find four more tricks.

B (Browse the Checklist):
You have a choice of promoting the club suit for four tricks by forcing out the ♣️A, or making four or five diamond tricks, if the finesse is successful. Which to choose?

C (Consider the Order of Play):
You can’t risk losing the lead to the opponents, as you have only one heart stopper. So, if you play on clubs, they will take the ♣️A and then all their heart winners. So, playing for the ♦️K to be with East is a better plan. BUT how many times might the ♦️K be guarded? You don’t know. If it is ♦️Kxxx, then you will need to take the finesse three times. In order to do this, you need three entries to the North hand to lead towards your ♦️AQJ10x three times.

Entries are the main consideration. They are available in the spade suit.

So, win the ♥️A, and play ♠️9 to the ♠️10. Play a low diamond and insert the ♦️Q, or ♦️J or ♦️10. When it holds the trick, play the ♠️J to the ♠️Q, and repeat the process. Next play the ♠️K to the ♠️A, and play diamonds again. Finally cash your ♦️A, dropping the ♦️K.

BINGO! You should win three spade tricks, one heart trick, and five diamond tricks.

Win a James McKeon print

Congratulations to Gill, who has won the James McKeon prize for her comment.

Gill - keep an eye on your email inbox for an email with details about how you can redeem your prize in coming days.

James McKeon is my brother. He has filled his life with a multitude of pursuits... his medical practice, singing, cooking, painting, his family and his friends. With more time now to devote to his art, James has kindly offered one of his beautiful prints as a prize to a reader who makes a fun, creative comment about this month's Challenge hand.  

James has always painted scenes which make him happy and remind him of peaceful times he's spent while on holidays. This is evident in all his paintings. You can view his art here, and, if you don't win the prize you can still buy a print online. 
Thanks James, for coming up trumps for us!

To enter the competition to win a James McKeon print of your choice you need to:

  1. Play the March 2019 Challenge Hand and share a comment below or on the associated social media posts. Your comment must include your score on the Challenge Hand and outline your approach to the hand.

  2. All comments will be judged by Joan Butts, with the best comment, not necessarily the best score, winning the prize. The comments will be judged on wit, brilliance and creativity rather than your skill as a bridge player!

  3. Entries close 6pm AEDST on Friday, March 15, 2019.

Winners will be notified via email, or direct message on the platform they posted their answer. See the full competition terms and conditions:

You may enter the competition as many times as you wish on this post, or on the Facebook or Instagram posts featuring James’ artwork.