Join Bridge Winners
Tweaking a Blocked Suit
(Page of 4)

I saw this hand, or something very close to it, on VuGraph a few days ago.

West
K104
A8752
7652
9
North
A832
109
984
J752
East
QJ7
KQ
AKJ103
K86
South
965
J643
Q
AQ1043
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

On the lead of a low club, there's no way to make 3NT.  However, it is possible to switch two cards in the same suit between two hands to do this--indeed, there is more than one solution.  Can you find the one which involves the smallest number of pips difference?  For example, switching a king and eight would be five pips.  (Edit to remove alternate solution) At least one of the cards has to be a spot card.

West
K104
AJ752
7652
9
North
A832
109
984
J752
East
QJ7
KQ
AKJ103
K86
South
965
8643
Q
AQ1043
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The easiest solution is to use three pips to unblock the hearts.  Declarer wins the K, then takes five diamonds and the whole heart suit.

West
K104
A8752
9652
9
North
A832
109
874
J752
East
QJ7
KQ
AKJ103
K86
South
965
J643
Q
AQ1043
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Another possibility is to use two pips to switch the 7 and 9.  Declarer can now win the AK, unblock , and take the 9, A, and the last two diamonds.  On the actual layout, the diamonds are blocked--declarer won the fourth diamond in dummy and hoped for the hearts to run.

West
K104
A8752
7652
9
North
A832
109
984
J652
East
QJ7
KQ
AKJ103
K87
South
965
J643
Q
AQ1043
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The best answer is to switch the 7 and 6.  Now declarer runs the diamond suit.  South can discard spades on the first three diamonds and a heart on the last (once he knows that declarer will win in hand).  But Declarer now exits with a club.  South can take his winners, but must give dummy a heart at the end.  Or, in a mirror of the situation on the previous page, North can win the fourth club and cash a spade, but has no transportation back to South for the last club.  This line doesn't work in the original layout because North can win the third club.

North could try maintaining transportation by playing low on the opening lead, but that doesn't work either.  Declarer again runs diamonds, forcing South once more to pitch all his spades.  This allows declarer to play K, A, 8.  South can win, but the clubs don't run and he needs to concede either a club or a couple of hearts.

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