Edmonton Journal


- by Bobby Wolff

“Inspiratio­n is the windfall from hard work and focus. Muses are too unreliable to keep on the payroll.” -- Helen Hanson .....................

In today’s deal, our final one from last year’s European Championsh­ips, Michael Kalita of Poland was declarer in three no-trump. He ducked the opening lead of the heart king, then won the next heart in hand.

Now he made his best play (in abstract) in the club suit, though not the best play on the hand, when he crossed to a diamond in dummy to lead a club to the queen and a club to the 10 and jack.

Bauke Muller as East now needed to cash the club ace and play a spade, hoping declarer could no longer untangle his entries, as would be the case here. In fact, Muller played the heart jack without cashing the club ace. Now declarer could have succeeded if he had pitched his club loser from hand, unblocking diamonds, and then built an additional spade winner for the ninth trick.

Notice the difference if Kalita does not cross to a diamond in dummy, but simply leads the club queen from hand at trick three. Muller can duck and win the next club, but if he cashes the club ace, declarer will catch West sooner or later in a spade-diamond squeeze. Kalita can duck a shift to the spade king, win the next spade, then cross to a diamond winner in dummy to play off the heart and club winners, and West must succumb.

So can three no-trump be defeated? Yes, but the only lead to set the hand by force is a highly unlikely club.

Answer: Reluctantl­y, I would force this hand to game -- as 12-counts with four-card support go, this is clearly not one of the more attractive ones. To set up the game-force, bid two spades, the fourth suit. This asks partner to describe their hand, and you plan to raise clubs at your next turn if space permits.

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