GeO Tislevoll has given us another declarer play problem for this month's Challenge Hand. This is a tricky hand that requires you to play a certain card at trick one. Make sure you choose that card very carefully.
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 attempted this hand, scroll down to find out how you can make 9 tricks.
This is a difficult hand that requires you to play a certain card at Trick 1. You can play the hand again by clicking on the button below. This is the same hand, but you will be forced to select the correct card at Trick 1.
Bidding: North almost has an upgrade to a 2NT opening (20-21), with 19 high card points and a decent five card suit. If the suit were slightly better, eg, ♠️AQ109x (easier to produce tricks), an upgrade would be justified. When South responds 1NT to the 1♠️ opening (the only response South can make), North bids game. West leads a low heart.
Declarer needs to promote four diamond tricks for the contract. It may be possible to win nine tricks (one spade, two hearts, four diamonds and two clubs), but there is a danger. Declarer needs an entry to South when the diamonds are established. If the opponent with the ♦️A ducks the diamonds twice (if he holds three+ diamonds), North will have no diamond left for transportation to South.
The only other possible entry is in hearts. Therefore, the declarer must be awake at trick one and get rid of that ♥️K! If East can beat the ♥️K with the ♥️A, ♥️Q10 with South provides two entries and later, declarer wins the ♥️10 and will still have one heart entry and can establish diamonds before that entry is taken away. If the ♥️K wins the first trick, as it does here, attack diamonds. Even if they duck twice with the ♦️A, declarer will have a certain heart entry with South’s ♥️Q10, and North’s ♥️ J2 by playing the ♥️10 the second time. If declarer plays hearts herself from North (to the ♥️10), either that wins, or if they take ♥️A, the ♥️Q is an entry.
If declarer plays low from North’s ♥️KJ2 at trick 1, the remaining hearts -♥️Q10 opposite ♥️KJ - do not provide an entry if the opponents are defending properly. If so, after the diamonds are established (♦️A ducked twice), the declarer can play the ♥️K, but West will duck – and there’s no entry to South. If declarer plays a low heart from North, they will win the second heart with the ♥️A, and the ♥️K blocks it so there is no entry.
TIP for declaring no trump contracts: When the sources of tricks is in the weak hand, think closely through the issue of entries to the later established tricks. You might, in the first trick, have to do something that ensures an entry, or makes it likely to get an entry to the hand you need to be in.
TIP for defending no trump contracts: Try to prevent declarer from getting an entry to a weak hand with a source of tricks.