David Bird - Unusual Entry Situations

Note: all hands have been rotated so that south is the declarer

Board 1

These are the 4 deals you have just played. What did you make of this deal:

You bid to the spade game and West leads out the ♥AKQ. What plan will you make?

It may seem natural to ruff the third round of hearts in the dummy, but you will go down if you do that. You would doubtless play the ♦AK next and cross to dummy by playing the ace and king of trumps. If you have a smile on your face at this stage, it will not last for long. When you lead the ♦Q, intending to throw a club loser, East will ruff. You can overruff, but no further entry is available to the dummy. You will lose two hearts and two clubs for one down.

To make the game, you need to unblock the ♦AK and then draw three rounds of trumps, ending in the dummy. You can then score the ♦QJ. All of this will be possible if you do not ruff the third round of hearts. You must discard a club from dummy at trick three, preserving dummy’s three trumps.

Board 2

Moving swiftly on, take a look at this 3NT contract:

You take a slow path to 3NT, and West leads the ♥8. How will you give yourself the best chance?

Let’s suppose that you play the ♥5 from dummy and East wins the first trick with the ♥K. You should unblock your ♥J, hoping to establish a heart entry to dummy; this will allow you to take two finesses against the ♣K. If East continues with the ♥A, you will unblock the ♥Q too. You will win the third round with dummy’s ♥10, finesse the ♣Q, return to the ♦A and finesse the ♣J. An overtrick will be yours.

Next, we will see what might happen if you play dummy’s ♥5 and East is a skilled performer. He can place you with a probable ♥QJx. To prevent you setting up a heart entry to dummy, he may play low at trick one, setting up the remainder of his heart suit in the process. A single entry to dummy (the ♦A) will then permit only one club finesse. Since East’s ♣K is not doubleton, you will go down.

Fortunately for you, there is a remedy to prevent East’s clever defense. You must play dummy’s ♥10 on the first trick. If East wins, you will unblock an honor from hand, and the play will proceed as above. If instead East ducks, you will be in dummy for one club finesse and can return to the ♦A for a second finesse. Brilliant!

(It will not help East to win the first heart and switch passively to diamonds. You will then play clubs from the top, making four clubs, three diamonds and a trick in each major.)

Board 3

How about a slam bid on just 21 HCP?

How will you play this contract when the ♦Q is led?

The diamonds are likely to be 4-1, so you must aim to set up dummy’s clubs. You win the first trick and play a trump to dummy’s ace, retaining the two small trumps for ruffing your heart losers later.

You then turn to the club suit. When you play dummy’s ♣AK, discarding a diamond, everyone follows. You lead a third round of clubs and East throws a heart. You ruff in your hand, return to dummy with a heart ruff, and lead another club, East discarding again. These cards are still in play: 

You ruff your last heart loser and lead the established ♣9. When East ruffs, you discard the ♦9 and your hand is high. If that’s not worth a ‘Well played, partner!’, it is hard to know what would be. 

Board 4

How will you tackle this heart game when West leads the ♥10?


You play low from dummy and East produces the ♥8. If you mistakenly win with the ace and play another trump, the defenders will draw a third round – not what you want. You should therefore duck the first round and win the second, leaving a defender with the master trump. You must then look for a way to lose only one spade trick.

A low card towards the ♠Q will give you two chances. First, West may hold the ♠K. Second, although it is not very likely here, East may win with the ♠K and not hold the last trump. Both these chances will fail. Is there a better way to play?

How about choosing a line that is now 100%? You should aim to ruff three diamonds with your remaining ♥743. using dummy’s top clubs as entries. East can score his ♥K whenever he wishes. If he chooses to ruff with it, dummy will have a trump left for a spade ruff.

It does not usually bring you an extra trick when you ruff in the long trump hand. It can do when you take several ruffs, in which case the play is known as a ‘dummy reversal’.