All News

Play and Defend Better: for improving players

“A GREEK GIFT”.

Was it inadvertent? Had the declarer pulled the wrong card by mistake? Just take a deep breath before you follow with a low card. You were only entitled to two spade tricks but now seemed to have three!

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

 

North appeared to have made the wrong bid after your 1Spade-small overcall. Either a natural 2Club-small call or 2Spade-small promising some diamond support with at least game interest would have been preferable. North was lucky that South only jumped to 3Heart-small (4Heart-small would have been very awkward!) and asked for a spade hold (3Spade-small) no doubt being very relieved when their partner bid 3NT.

You decided not to lead your long suit but tried the one which no-one mentioned, clubs, Club-small7. A brief comment of apology from North was followed by South calling for Club-small8 from dummy with your partner playing Club-small9 and declarer Club-small4.

At trick 2, East played Spade-smallT and South Spade-small7….and you?

What is going on? Where are Spade-smallJ and Spade-smallK, the only two spades you cannot see? The bidding may seem unusual but it did seem South had a spade hold, presumably the king while your partner would be extremely devious if they had led the Spade-small10 from Spade-smallJ10 doubleton. (A quiet word with partner after the hand if that had happened!). Come on, you know South started with Spade-smallKJ7. So, why play the Spade-small7 when covering would limit their spade losers to just two (did you see dummy’s spade holding?)?

Leaving aside a mechanical slip, what is going on?

The conclusion you would have to draw is that the declarer did not want you on lead. Why not? It can only be because of the opening lead. South never announced a hold or any length in clubs. Maybe your opening lead had struck gold? Let’s see:

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

 

Unfortunately for the defence, West played low on Spade-small10 meaning East had no way to get to their partner’s hand. The heart exit left South with no choice but to take the diamond finesse (East covered Diamond-smallJ with their Diamond-smallQ) thus scoring 9 red suit tricks. Had West overtaken with Spade-smallQ and played Club-smallQ, South could not have stopped the defence from taking three club and two spade tricks, no matter when the Club-smallK was played. A waste of a really good initial lead from West.

Of course, West was unlucky that their partner’s spade was the Spade-small10. Had it been Spade-small7, West would have had to have overtaken to beat declarer’s then Spade-small10.

The board does raise the issue of which card is best to lead from three to an honour against no-trumps. Leading low can give the impression to partner that you have a four card or longer suit. While it is throwing all your eggs into one basket to lead the queen, leading the middle card can often work out best in that your holding is less likely to block the suit. By leading a club, you are rather hoping your partner holds the jack or some other favourable holding. So, leading Club-small10 may prove to be a good choice without telling the declarer where the Club-smallQ is.

On the Club-small10 lead, the defence should take the first seven tricks for a swift three down. It will not always work out that favourably but the middle card is often the best to lead when you do strike gold.

Back though to West who did not take long enough to work out what was happening when that Spade-small10 was led and ducked. If South held three spades, four hearts (remember the bidding) and at least four diamonds, there was very little room left for many club cards.

“Great lead” we hope your partner said. “Just a pity you could not follow it through.

Richard Solomon

A small side issue. When the Diamond-smallJ was led from dummy, East could guess that South held the Diamond-small10. If so, there was no point in covering. East did not know whether South was going to finesse the first round of diamonds. They might have played Diamond-smallA in case of the possibility West held singleton queen. They would then return a second heart to dummy and play Diamond-small9 and by playing low, smoothly, for a second time, you might encourage South to play for West holding doubleton queen. We should give a declarer every chance to go wrong. Look at all the mental energy they will waste in trying to find that missing queen. They may still finesse but may be worn out for the next few boards in finding the right line! Make it as hard as you can for the opposition.

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • JLT and Chubb Logo square 02.jpg
  • City Council square logo.png
  • Ryman