The King Is Dead

This hand was played in a National match between Finland and Hungary. I played a lot of interesting hands, but this is my favorite one for sure!

On rare occasions an obvious trick of the defenders can be avoided without needing them to make any real mistake. This board is one of those occasions.

Team match Finland-Hungary 1997
Teams European Championship, Montecattini

To understand the play, it's necessary to know every detail of what happened at the table. After 1♠-Pass-4♠ East doubled in tempo, and alerted as a take out double, behind screen of course. I obviously passed and the auction has ended soon.

The lead was the ♣K on which East played the ♣6. He continued with an other club to East's ♣A which was ruffed by South. Now is the time to build a picture of the opponents hands. West had King and Queen of ♣, and the  Ace looks to be in East’s hand, most probably with all red honors. Therefore the opponents will win another 2 heart tricks. The fate of the contract depends on the spade distribution.

We can assume that East will not have two spades, since West would not have passed a take out double with a void. If spades are 1-1, one player will have the singleton King. But which one?

  • East will probably not have a singleton ♠K, that hand would no justify him to go to the 5th level without any hesitation.
  • West will probably not have a singleton ♠K either, he has a strong hand with 8-9 points and not a very defensive hand. Why did he not bid and not even hesitated over 4♠ then?

So the picture I built in my head about the hands suggested that East is void in spades and West holds the ♠K4. This would mean one off.  Is there anything we can do about that?

The solution

Our best chance is a deceptive play. The opponents do not know about our spade holdings, and from West's point of view you might five spades with the QJT and the A. With ten cards in the trumps and missing the A and K you're only hope for not loosing two tricks would be to play the ♠Q and hope that West covers with doubleton ♠K.

So I decided to play the ♠Q, hoping that West will play his partner for singleton ♠A. After a long time he finally decided to play the ♠4 and East showed out. Contract made.

The complete hand was:

 

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