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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

“What If?”

Quick to say but not quite as quick to put into action. Those two words should be spoken (well, quietly to yourself!) by every declarer when they see dummy. Our declarer did not do that when as South, he was declarer in 4Heart-small on the following deal.

Looking at the two hands, many North players would have become declarer after they opened 2NT and South transferred to hearts before raising to the heart game. However, one pair were not playing transfers and therefore it was South who got to be declarer. The lead was the Spade-smallJ and the name of the game was Pairs.

North Deals
None Vul
A Q 6
K 5
A Q J 5
A 9 6 5
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 10 9
Q 10 9 8 7 4
8 6
10 4

 

Any ideas? It would be nice to take a diamond finesse and if that worked or even if it failed to dispose of the club loser on the third round of diamonds. There was the matter of playing trumps for one loser and in addition the added problem that the Spade-smallJ might be a singleton. It would not be a triumph to lose a trick in both minors and a couple of trumps or suffer a ruff. Hey, the opponents are getting restless. The move has been called and you have still to play to trick one!

Our declarer decided to win with the Spade-smallK in hand after playing low in dummy and play a heart to the king which held and then played a second trump on which East contributed a friendly jack and West the ace over your queen. All friendly? No ruff…maybe an overtrick? Wait a minute, what did West play after winning the Heart-smallA?

 

North Deals
None Vul
A Q 6
K 5
A Q J 5
A 9 6 5
J 4
A 6 2
K 10 7 4 2
J 8 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
8 7 5 3 2
J 3
9 3
K Q 3 2
 
K 10 9
Q 10 9 8 7 4
8 6
10 4

 

West played the Spade-small4 to dummy’s queen. Ouch! That was not where declarer wanted to be, with only the above minor cards and the Spade-smallA left. As you can see, cashing the Spade-smallA was pointless and would incur the ruff. A fortuitous lie of the diamond suit (the finesse has to work or else declarer suffers the spade ruff) enables South just to lose a diamond and the Heart-smallA and save a poor score but South came off the dummy with a low club and the spade ruff gave the defence their third trick.

Why was this such a bad score for South? Against 4Heart-small by North, most declarers lost just a club (club lead) and a heart for +450. +420 was a near bottom and was avoidable. By all means take the diamond finesse at trick two but a little planning would avoid being stuck in dummy. Did you notice the spade pips? Win in hand but at trick one, but play Spade-smallQ from dummy and Spade-smallK from hand. Then, if the trump play goes as above, (hardly unlikely), a second spade can be won by the Spade-small9 in hand. There would be no embarrassment about getting stuck in dummy.

“What if?” and there was a simple solution.

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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