Paul Bethe

Missed defense

Dealer: E

Vul: All

West East
AQ542 K
Q9 JT64
T8 K732
9865 JT73
East South West North
P 1N (15-17!) P 2H*
P 2S P 3N

Defending against my pushy 3NT at the Edgar Kaplan Winter regional, my opponent missed the precise defense to beat me.  A heart would have done the trick, but who can fault the actual opening club lead?   I won and played on spades, and East won and again, a heart would have done it, but he continued clubs (again, who wouldn’t?).

I won, pitching a diamond from dummy, and continued spades.  West won and now had to continue clubs.  I won (pitching a heart) and decided that with West long in both clubs and spades, East probably had the diamond King.  Therefore the contract could be beat, but I would make it hard.  I crossed to dummy in hearts and cleared spades, pitching a club.  West won, cashed a club, but made the fatal play of a diamond return.  I won the Ace, and cashed the spade winners, squeezing East in the red-suits to claim my game.

At that crucial junction, West had to return a heart to break up the squeeze communication.

I mentioned that after two spades had been knocked out, West had to play a third club.  What if instead he plays a diamond?  I win the ace, and play spades pitching a heart.  West wins, and now I can strip squeeze East out of the long club in order to drive the diamond King.  But just as before a heart would also beat the game.  Won in dummy and spades pitching a heart.  Now just as before, another heart will do it by breaking the communication, but this time, only as long as East has discarded a diamond and a club, and not a heart.  Otherwise I would just duck this heart to set up a long one for my 9th trick.

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