All News

Play and Defend Better: for improving players

INTERESTING DEFENCE :INTERESTING PLAY

We are going to give you a hand from the recent Tauranga Teams which produced interesting declarer play at one and equally interesting defence at another. Without further comment, it’s your lead to the following 6Heart-small slam:

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

 

Your opponents were playing Precision, with 1Club-small Standard Precision and a series of cue-bids following North's 2Heart-small trump agreement. What lead would you make?

West above was Andi Boughey, one of our top young players. She listened and took in the bidding, not just what the opponents had bid but what they had not! South seemed to have diamonds well under control. A trump lead might work if lots of ruffing had to be done. On this day, that was not the case. A spade lead would guide declarer into the only lie of the opponents’ cards to make the slam. That left the club suit.

Had South held the Club-smallA or a club void, they would surely have bid 3Club-small as a cue-bid after 2Heart-small, even 4Club-small after 3Spade-small with a singleton club. If the bidding made sense, North had to hold a club control or else could not possibly bid to slam. If that control was the ace, then maybe it did not matter which club Andi led. If her partner held the queen, all’s well and good. So, a club it was…but Andi chose the king. Look what happened:

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

 

When Andi led the Club-smallK, it held the trick. Nothing now looked very attractive as a switch..but she knew who held the Club-smallA…and the declarer did not! So, out came a low club with the declarer needing to get rid of dummy’s losing spade.

Away it went at trick 2, and down went the contract!

The truth is out now about the four hands. The slam is cold because trumps are 2-1 and diamonds 4-4. Declarer can discard three spades in the South hand on Diamond-smallAK and the established 5th diamond. However, when Jenny Millington as North received the lead of the Spade-smallK in the same contract, she did not know that there would be such a good diamond break. If diamonds broke 5-3 or 6-2 or 7-1 (or even 8-0!), she was one down…no play!

The bidding had been swift and unrevealing:

                        North                        South

                        1Heart-small                               4Heart-small

                        4NT                              5Diamond-small (1 or 4 key cards)

                        6Heart-small                               Pass

Yet, there was a slim but unusual play which Jenny adopted. She ducked the opening lead (smoothly, of course)! Who would duck with the ace when they could establish the jack for a trick by simply playing ace and another? As you can see, she would probably have lost a club trick to be one down.

Perhaps, she should have been one down anyway. She was unlucky in that East held the Club-smallA. Had the Club-smallA been in West’s hand, it would have been harder for East to find the right switch. East thought for a long time and then continued with Spade-smallQ and the discard for the club loser had been created…not the "book" way but the psychological way. Note that Jenny would have made her slam with whichever spade East continued.

Had Andi and Jenny been in the same team, they would have created a lovely 17 imp swing by their unusual actions. Perhaps Jenny should have played the text-book line and made her slam though another approach worked when the “book” way may have failed.

Nice lead and very interesting declarer play. Would you have found Andi’s lead and would you have made the slam after the Spade-smallK lead? 6 declarers made 6Heart-small and 7 failed. The rest played game, mainly for 11 or 12 tricks.

Richard Solomon   

The percentage chance of a 4-4 break is only 33%. A 2-1 trump break is 78% which brings the chance of success down to a miserable 26%. So, Jenny’s line was certainly not without merit. Nor indeed was it silly to play Andi for both top club honours.

Go Back View All News Items

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