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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

Creating an Illusion.

Pure Cheek: Pure Tempo.

A break this week from how you should or should not play or defend a board. We are nevertheless going to give you a declarer problem. You are East below after a very natural bidding sequence to 3NT. (West was optimistic about 7 diamond tricks with his jump to 3Diamond-small.)

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

 

You breathe just a little sigh of relief (well, it was actually quite a big one!) that the black card which South led was a spade,    Spade-small9, rather than a club. A quick add up of tricks says you have one trick in each major and seven in diamonds. Excellent…a making contract.

So, you win North’s Spade-smallQ with your ace and lead a diamond to dummy’s ace… and suddenly the relief disappears as North discards a club on the first diamond. Certainly, you can finesse the diamond but how do you propose to get back to the East hand to do so?

What card should you play? Lead Heart-small3 and hope one’s opponent will not put up the king? Dream on…dream 2.png

 If you try the legitimate spade, North who surely has the king will win the trick…. and you know what will come next, don’t you? It will not be a spade and it will not be a red card.

Another great contract (well, 5Diamond-small might be) bites the dust in a cruel way. Head scratching, moaning about bad luck, such actions will get you nowhere. Our declarer found the solution…and went on to score 11 of the 13 tricks!

Welcome to the stage GeO Tislevoll who was playing the Open Pairs at last weekend’s Wellington Easter Congress. GeO was declarer and certainly did not bemoan his bad luck. With just a quick thought and in perfect tempo after his Diamond-smallA had scored, he called for dummy’s Club-small6!

Now, you and I know that such a play should never work. Well, let’s check out the four hands:

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

 

North rose with his ace and took stock. They could imagine that GeO wanted to return to hand to take a diamond finesse. It was certainly possible that GeO held the Club-smallK. North cashed the Spade-smallK. It was also possible that South had led initially from Spade-smallJ98x but North did not choose the option to find out. They switched to a heart which gave GeO not just one but two entries to hand….not that he needed them both. He duly took his diamond finesse and made the rest of his tricks, that’s two overtricks!

illusion.jpgwhere's the Club-smallK?"

Not the best defence, certainly but GeO had created a nice illusion about the whereabouts of the Club-smallK. South could, maybe did, play an encouraging card under their partner’s Club-smallA though in such circumstances, it seems almost logical to believe the declarer.

Had GeO tried a small spade from dummy, North should rise and be very suspicious about the change of suit. There would be a lot to gain and little to lose in laying down the Club-smallA now…and South’s encouraging signal would surely not be misinterpreted.

Pure cheek, pure tempo. Nice play…. and no two guesses who won the event.

Richard Solomon (thanks to the dummy, Grant Jarvis, for “spilling the beans”.)

 

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