Solution to The Percentage Line­ March/April 1999

 Vul: NoneDlr: YouScoring: Matchpoints PARD (dummy) Q 2 10 7 4 A J 9 5 2 A 8 5 Before jumping the gun and winning the A, you should duck one round. You never know when a defender will get impatient and lead a spade away from their king prematurely. Perhaps clubs are really 6-2 (unlikely), and you will sever the communications. Good technique dictates that you duck at least one club, although that is not the focus of this hand. Assuming the defenders don't give you a trick in spades, you have one spade trick, one heart, two diamonds and one club to start. To have any hope, you need to bring in the diamond suit for five winners. The good news is that if you fail to bring in the diamond suit, then the identical play in 3 would have brought you the same -50. This is comforting, but making 2NT for a top would be more comforting. To find the best play in the diamond suit, we should stop to do a little counting. Contract: 2NT Opening Lead: K YOU A 8 5 4 A 8 6 K 8 7 3 9 4

• Lefty certainly has three spades to raise to 2.

• Lefty must have exactly four hearts. He certainly has less than 5 or he would have opened 1, and had righty held 4 hearts, he would have made a negative double instead of bidding 1.

• Lefty probably has shortness somewhere, because he would have preferred to pass your 2 with a 3-4-3-3 hand. His most likely distributions are 3-4-2-4 and 3-4-1-5. It is highly unlikely that righty would balance 2 with only three, so the 3-4-2-4 distribution is the winner!

It's time to play a diamond to the A and a diamond back to hand. When righty follows, rise with the K and drop the doubleton Q! (no mirrors)

Once that hurdle is jumped, lead a low spade up to the Q for the overtrick. Ducking a second club gives up on this possibility when the opponents switch to hearts at trick 3.

The only time you lose matchpoints on this line of play is when lefty had 3-4-3-3 distribution with the K. If this happens, then you are the unluckiest declarer alive.

Well played!

Danny Miles (being the greedy little matchpoint bugger that he is) went for the overtrick in spades before testing diamonds, but he had the hand counted out correctly.

Larry Meyer got the analysis right, but avoided the overtrick. The overtrick is required to beat the +130's in 3.

Excellent work gentlemen!

Honourable Mention

• Danny Miles (Waterloo, Ontario)
• Larry Meyer (Vancouver, British Columbia)

The Percentage Line - a quiz show by Brad Bart.