by National Champion Matthew Weingarten and one of District 9’s former Junior Standout Players
Misfits can be frustrating!
Remember everyone else playing in your direction has to play the hand, as well.
The big question is: Can you handle it better than they can?
The Auction was:
S W N E
1C P 1S P
2H P 2N* P
3C** P 3D P
3H P P P
You are South and here is a diagram of the hand as the cards were dealt:
Playing South, you have a 7-5 hand, which is good enough to reverse. Partner’s 2NT* is
Lebensohl (playing it over reverses), forcing you to bid 3 Clubs**. 3 Diamonds was a signoff, but you
decide to bid 3 Hearts. This is where the auction ends.
The opening lead is the Ace of Spades. While the contract may seem grim, you need to focus
on playing it better than everyone else. You are in 3 Hearts, there’s a fair chance that’ll be the
common contract. So, relax and play it!
As declarer, the best way to think about playing this misfit is by crossruffing the hand. You ruff
the lead, cash the Ace of Diamond, cash a high Club, and then ruff a low club (ruffing low to begin
with could be costly and cashing both high ones before ruffing would only work when they split 3-3).
Now, cash the King of Diamonds and ruff a Spade. Then try to ruff a Club again, which more than
likely will be overruffed with the Ace. The defense returns a Diamond, which you ruff, and it
surprisingly holds. Next, you play a high Club, which forces out another trump. Now, it’s impossible to
go down as your 9 of Heart becomes a critical card for the making trick.
All in all, going +140 on this hand is an excellent result.
Could the defense have done better?
Basically, East could have put a Heart on the table when they got to overruff the Club. By
doing so, declarer is prevented from scoring all those trump tricks. And the opening lead is also
debatable. This auction indicates a clear misfit, and it might be worth leading a trump at Trick 1. By
leading trump, the result would have been fatal.
There were a variety of contracts played on this board. However, 3 Hearts was the most
common contract with 5 Clubs also being popular spot.
The main take away is to take a deep breath, accept the misfit, plan, and execute accordingly.
It just may be the difference between a good board and a bad one.
See you at the table!
In looking at the two hands, you notice that 6 Clubs is a very good contract. In fact, without too much thought, it is 100% cold! So, in match points we need to raise the stakes a bit as every trick counts.
SO, how do you make 7 Clubs on the lead of the Jack of clubs?
In counting your tricks, you note that Declarer’s diamond may allow for one discard: the heart. That leaves 3 spade losers! What can that be done?
A fun declarer concept known as Dummy Reversal can be employed to accomplish what is needed here. In Dummy Reversal, you use the longer trumps to score ruffs instead of the normal playing strategy of using the hand with shorter trumps to do the task.
Let’s play it out!
On the lead of the Jack of clubs, declarer wins with the Ace of clubs and plays a spade to the Ace, followed by ruffing a spade low. Declarer then crosses to the King of diamonds and ruffs another spade with the Ten of clubs. Ruff high, you can afford it and you do not want to be overruffed! Cross to dummy’s Queen of clubs. Declarer ruffs the last spade with the King of clubs. Now, cross to the Queen of diamonds in dummy, and use dummy’s 9 of club to pull the last trump (trumps split 3-1). Now, the diamond provides the heart discard from dummy for 13 tricks.
This is not a foolproof grand slam.
For starters, a diamond lead could potentially break up this play, especially if they split worse than 3-3 (not enough entries to do all you need to do!) or a horrendous spade split could doom the contract, as well. Remember, the first ruff needs to be with a low trump. In theory, 7 Clubs is a reasonable contract and a likely spot top players will land.
In the end, the moral of the story is think through all your options and determine what appears to be the best line of play. There are a lot of different concepts in declarer play but for this hand Dummy Reversal is a sure winner! And it gives you the timing needed to accomplish all the playing nuances. More on timing in another article!
Thanks to Matty B. from Discord for the hand. See you at the table!