Both vulnerable

Play Bridge: More options on the Puppet Stayman

Continuing from last week's column with another example of the Puppet Stayman.

The bidding: In the last column, we saw that three clubs is Puppet Stayman asking for a four or five-card major. This is another example. South, with 23 HCP’s, opens two clubs and rebids 2NT showing a balanced 22 to 24 points. Two diamonds is waiting. North asks partner if he has a four or five-card major. With a five card major, South just bids it. With neither, South bids 3NT. However, South has at least one four-card major and bids three diamonds. North bids four diamonds saying he has both four-card majors and South plays four hearts.

The Lead: West has a difficult lead because his RHO has most of the outstanding points. He leads his fourth best diamond and because of his length, he hopes not to give declarer an undeserved trick.

The play: South wins the ace of diamonds and takes the club finesse losing to the Queen. West cashes the Ace of clubs and exits a club. Declarer wins in dummy and draws two round of hearts, West showing out on the second round.

He stops drawing trump (often the course of action once a bad split is found) and ruffs a diamond. He then takes a spade finesse, the Queen losing to the King. West is now end-played. He has no clubs or trump to play, and a diamond exit gives declarer a sluff-and-a-ruff. He, therefore exits a spade which finesses partner out of his jack.

A spade exit is the best exit because it is a finesse declarer could have done in the first place. Declarer goes to dummy with the Ten of spades and takes the heart hook (finesse) and then draws the last trump and claims.

Result: A difficult Four hearts making for +620

Notes:

-The key to making this difficult contract is a careful planning of the optimal use of entries.

-Declarer also has to keep trump in dummy so he can take care of diamond forces and still make the heart finesse.

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