The Chinese A-level Club Tournament, hosted at Wujiang, Suzhou in Jiangsu Province is the top bridge event in China. It is played over three stages with a starting field of 16 teams. The interesting thing about this event is that it is open to foreign players. That is unusual for a domestic competition. It shows how the Chinese are keen to give their leading players the toughest opposition. This year Dutch stars Sjoert Brink and Bas Drijver took part, as did Bulgarians Roumen Trendafilov/Karlin Karaivanov and Dawei Chen/Kazuo Furuta from Japan.
Experts would make four spades on this deal because the correct play in the trump suit is nothing more than good basic technique for experts. If you don’t know about this technique, however, you would go down in four spades without ever realising that you could have done better.
West began with the ace and king of hearts. Declarer, a seasoned campaigner, ruffed the continuation with the six of spades as a matter of technique. The thinking is to keep the four of trumps in case you need to play it under dummy’s five. Declarer played the ace of trumps at trick three and when West discarded a heart he could see he had a battle on his hands and that he would need some luck. He would now need the clubs and diamonds to break 3-3. He cashed the three top diamonds followed by the ace and king of clubs. Then he exited with the jack of clubs. West won with the queen of clubs and exited with a heart – that’s all he had left. Declarer ruffed the heart exit in dummy with the five of trumps and underruffed in hand with the precious four. A trump was then led from dummy and when East played the jack, declarer let him hold the trick. Declarer took the last two tricks with the ten and king of trumps.
On this next deal, you have to find the best way to play the club suit to make your three no trumps.
West leads the jack of spades, which you win in hand. You have eight top tricks and the club suit is the best candidate for an extra one. How would you proceed?
Best is the ace then the two of clubs. When East wins with the jack of clubs you have your extra trick. All you have to do now is lead your ten of clubs to force out the king, establishing the queen as a winner.
If West had taken the ten of clubs with the jack, you would have won the return and arranged to lead your last club towards dummy’s queen. This way of tackling the club suit loses only when West started with a doubleton jack of clubs, roughly a 6 per cent chance a priori.