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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players


A standard time for false-carding is as declarer when the first round of a suit is played and you fear a ruff if you follow meekly low. Name me a defender who has not at some time been fooled by the jettisoning of an unnaturally high card and I will make you wealthy. (Note the amount to be paid is not specified.)

However, the opportunities to false-card crop up in other ways, too. The declarer on the following deal should not have succumbed to an apparent false-card but the defender had very little to lose.

South Deals
None Vul
K 8 5 2
A 6 5 4
K 10 9
Q 6
A 7 6
J 8 7 2
3 2
J 9 4 2
W   E
4 3
Q 10 3
Q J 7 6
A 10 8 3
Q J 10 9
K 9
A 8 5 4
K 7 5
West North East South
      1 NT
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


West knew from the invitational sequence to game that their partner had some values and decided to look for a diamond ruff. With trump control, there was some chance of this being a successful ploy. Diamond-small3 lead went to the Diamond-small9, Diamond-smallQ and Diamond-smallA.

Lower from equals?

Why not Diamond-smallJ from East, lower of two equals, the standard play in this situation? East decided to hide the true diamond situation from both their partner and declarer. It would probably not matter much to West to think that the Diamond-smallJ was with South while once in a while, a declarer will believe that East had denied the Diamond-smallJ at trick 1.

West won the Spade-smallQ continuation and perhaps hoping East held Spade-smallK continued diamonds with Diamond-small2. South fell for it and finessed, in itself not terminal though the diamond ruff which followed was, as the Club-smallA had still to be lost…down 1.

An inferior line?

So, you spotted that South found a way to go down in a cold contract (rise with the ace, draw trumps and concede a trick in each minor)? Unless the initial lead was from Diamond-small J7632 with East to ruff the second round of diamonds or where East had Diamond-smallQJ doubleton and West the gain that ruff), the finesse would gain an overtrick but could as here cost the contract. What did South make of West’s Diamond-small3 then Diamond-small2? East’s play to trick 1 gave South an authentic chance to go wrong.

Had East played Diamond-smallJ at trick 1, then West’s play of Diamond-small3 followed by Diamond-small2 could certainly be from the doubleton it was, perhaps more likely than the lead from a 5 card suit with only 6 missing. Thus, East’s play gave South more of a chance to go wrong and contributed to the defeat of the contract.

Praise that wily fox!

One can debate whether South was unwise or unlucky in their play but unquestionably, the play of the Diamond-smallQ at trick 1 contributed to their downfall.

Richard Solomon


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