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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

USING THEIR TIME

So, what do you do as a defender when the declarer goes into what seems like a 10 minute reverie at the first sight of dummy? OK, it was only 30 seconds but you only had four minutes to play this board or else time penalties loomed!

Even if you have nothing to think about with your yarborough, stay focused. You may have to discard: you may have a role to play as your partner has to decide which king to bare in a cascade of trumps. Often, you can make a key decision while the declarer was planning his line.

“What if?” “Do you cover the honour led?” Do you play your ace on the first round?” “What’s your plan as a defender?” It sounds like you could be the one who needs the 10 minute pause!

So, what is the question you should be asking yourself with this powerful collection after you have led the Diamond-small2 to this 4Heart-small contract?

West Deals
Both Vul
Q 3 2
K J 7 5
10 9 7 4 3
6
K 4
9 2
Q 6 5 2
10 9 8 7 2
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
You Dummy    
Pass Pass 1 NT Dbl
2  Dbl 2  2 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

1NT showed 12-14. Your 2Club-small bid showed both minors and North’s double was take-out of clubs. So, what are your thoughts?

  1. “Not much of a dummy”! (That thought is not constructive and dangerous. It should take no more than 1 second. Move on!)
  2. “Declarer will not have many diamonds. It could be a cross-ruff hand. Maybe I should have led a trump.” Again, not really constructive but that might still help your side should your side win the lead soon.”
  3. “What will I do if declarer leads a spade…a low spade from hand?” Now, we are getting down to some better thoughts. Best to think now so that I do not have to stop later.

Time for thinking is over as declarer called for a low diamond from dummy. Your partner played the king and, sure enough, declarer ruffed the trick. At trick 2 came the Spade-small6 from declarer. Are you ready? You had all that time to plan the play, what you would do in this situation. If you are going up with the king, go up….and if you had decided to play low, play low in tempo as though you had the 5 and the 4 rather than K4.

This board was defended recently by Christchurch’s John Wignall. John decided he was going to play low. So, he did so in perfect tempo. Maybe we should look at all four hands.

West Deals
Both Vul
Q 3 2
K J 7 5
10 9 7 4 3
6
K 4
9 2
Q 6 5 2
10 9 8 7 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 9 8 5
8 6 3
A K J 8
J 4
 
J 10 7 6
A Q 10 4
A K Q 5 3
West North East South
You Dummy    
Pass Pass 1 NT Dbl
2  Dbl 2  2 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

Declarer played the Spade-smallQ from dummy, losing to your partner’s ace. Your partner switched to a trump (“we are on the same wave-length… had better apologize later for not leading one initially”) which was won by declarer in dummy. Next came Spade-small2 from dummy to Spade-small5, Spade-small10 and your Spade-smallK. You played back your remaining trump…and with only one trump left in the South hand…and still one in partner’s hand, declarer was in big trouble.

Neither spades nor clubs broke for declarer…and he ended one down.

What was important in the defence was the perfect tempo in which the first round of spades was played. It is possible, perhaps probable that rising with the Spade-smallK and getting a spade ruff would have beaten the contract as East would still have the extra annoying trump.

What is certain that had John hesitated and played low, the declarer could have guessed to play a small spade from his hand on the second round and set up the Spade-smallJ10 for a diamond discard and basically set up the dummy hand, discarding two diamonds on Spade-small10 and Club-smallQ and ruffing two, losing just two spades and a diamond.

Tempo can be all important. There are definitely times in the play when you may need to think mid-trick. Yet, if you can reduce those times by doing defensive planning at trick one, you can make life a lot easier for yourself. Whether the Spade-small4 was the correct spade to play is debatable. Yet, the tempo in which it was played was all important.

So, next time the declarer takes forever to play for the first trick, take advantage.

Richard Solomon

 

 

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