In my previous article (ESRA 187), I explained that I seldom use prepared hands in my advanced classes anymore but rather we deal out the cards and play the hands as they come. Rarely are we disappointed. Virtually every hand has some interest. By way of example, I discussed what appeared to be a somewhat innocuous deal that had arisen in one of our supervised playing sessions. Continuing in the same vein, in this article we’ll look at another, though perhaps less innocuous one, as it turns out.

Let’s start with the South hand.  As dealer, non-vulnerable vs vulnerable opponents, you open the bidding 1© with a solid 2-suiter:  ♠ A 2, © K Q 10 4 2, ¨ A 9 7 4 3, § 8. There’s nothing much to discuss here. The bid is pretty standard.

On to the West hand. You’re vulnerable, the opponents not. What would you do over South’s 1©opening bid holding:   Q 8 7 4, ©A 6, ¨ J 5 2, § K Q J 5. Again few would argue with a take-out double, though you would have preferred a fourth Diamond rather than the small Heart.

I won’t disclose the hand at this stage but North jumps directly to game with a bid of 4©. South alerts the bid as showing 6-9 points and normally 5 cards in Hearts.  Sitting in the East seat, you have a dilemma. You hold  K 10 9 6 3, © 9 8, ¨ K Q 10 8, § 9 2.  Do you meekly pass or do you bid 4?  Well modern bridge theory, the Law of Total Tricks, dictates that when the points are evenly split between the sides and you have a 9-card fit with partner your side can make only 9 tricks, while the opponents with an assumed 10-card fit can make 10. What the hell.  Even if you go off one doubled, the 200 point penalty is better than the opponents scoring 420 for the non-vulnerable Heart game. You bid 4.

Back to South.  “At favorable vulnerability, I’m not letting the opponents play in 4. In fact, if my partner has the ©A and King-fourth in Diamonds we have a slam so I’m going to make a slam try by bidding 5¨.”

As West, you decide you’ve said enough. The 5 level, vulnerable, is dangerous territory, so you pass. North signs off at 5©and that ends the bidding: 

South  

1 © 
5 ¨ 
Pass 

West

Double   
Pass 
Pass 
 

North  

4© 
5©
 

East

4♠ 
Pass
 

You have to lead from  Q 8 7 4, © A 6, ¨ J 5 2, § K Q J 5.  There are two ways of looking at the problem. The first is that, in order to defeat the contract, your side needs to score 2 tricks in the black suits in addition to your Heart winner. South has shown 10 cards or more in the red suits and therefore at most 3 cards in the black ones. Furthermore, from his slam try, it is reasonable to assume that he has one of the black Aces. Hopefully partner has the second, presumably the A. One of the opponents is likely to be short in Spades so your best hope is to establish the second black trick in Clubs. In this case, you should lead the K to knock out the A while you still have the ©A and before declarer can set up the Diamonds for discards.

The alternative is to consider that in order to make 11 tricks with at most 20 points, declarer is going to have to rely heavily on cross-ruffing using his small trumps, in which case you should lead the ©A followed by a second round of trumps.

In the actual play, West chose the natural-looking lead of the §K and when dummy came down with the surprising hand of  J 5, © J 7 5 3, ¨ 6, § A 10 7 6 4 3, declarer had a good chance to make the contract but failed to do so.

The full deal was: 

 

North

 

 

 J 5

 

 

© J 75 3

 

West

¨ 6

East

♠ Q 8 7 4

§ A 10 7 6 4 3

♠  K 10 9 6 3

© A 6

 

©  9 8

¨ J 5 2

South

¨ K Q 10 8

§ K Q J 5

♠ A 2

§ 9 2

 

© K Q 10 4 2

 

 

¨ A 9 7 4 3

 

 

§ 8

 


Declarer won the opening lead with § A and ruffed a club in hand. He followed this with the ¨A and ruffed a diamond in dummy. He continued with the Club-Diamond cross-ruff but ended one trick short of his contract. Can you see a winning line?

The secret here is to use the Club-ruff entries to hand only after you have started ruffing Diamonds. At the second trick, therefore, declarer should have led a Diamond to his ¨A in hand. Then Diamond ruff, Club ruff, Diamond ruff, Club ruff, Diamond ruff.   The third Club ruff then brings in his eighth trick and leaves him in hand: 

 

North

 

 

 J 5

 

 

© 

 

West

¨ -

East

♠ Q 8 7

§ 10 7 

♠  K 10 9

© A 6

 

© 9 8

¨ -

South

¨ -

§ -

♠ A 2

§ -

 

© K Q

 

 

¨ 

 

 

§ -

The lead of the ¨A from hand now catches West in a cleft stick. If she discards a Spade or ruffs low, declarer trumps with the ©J for his ninth trick and must still score a Spade and a Heart for his contract.  If she ruffs with the ©A, declarer discards a Spade and brings home the contract with two more Hearts tricks and the A.

As it turns out, the killing defense was for West to have led the ©A followed by the ©6. This would have left dummy with too few trumps for declarer to ruff out his fourth Diamond and the defense would have ended up with 3 tricks: a Heart, a Spade and a Diamond.

And there you have it all in one package - bidding, defense and declarer play. Nice hand, wasn’t it?

print Email article to a friend
Rate this article 
 

Post a Comment




Related Articles

 

About the author

Alan Caplan

Alan Caplan was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was an active member of Bnei Zion and, subsequently, Habonim following the merger of the two movements. The year after high school ...
More...

Script Execution Time: 0.288 seconds-->