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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Creating an Illusion.

When you are playing Teams, you do want to beat any contract of the opponents. You do not want them scoring an overtrick or three either if they are at a sensible level. A couple of imps in the out column would be annoying even if you had brought home a great game swing on the previous board. However, the big swings come from beating their contracts if you can. What chance is there on the following board where you are East?

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

 

You are East and playing 5 card majors. Your opponents bid briskly to game with your partner leading Spade-small4. Your lead style is 4ths or low from an honour, MUD from three small (middle up down).  Trick 1 goes Spade-small4, Spade-small7, Spade-smallA Spade-smallK. You are playing Teams and really would like to beat the contract. Can you?

Other than the ace of trumps, it looks like you best asset, your spade suit, has come to nothing, well just one trick. Dummy has a menacing looking diamond suit and your partner has been very very silent, probably for very good cause. Nothing to say: no reason to bid.

don't give up.jpg

So, beating this contract? Even looking for more than two tricks looks decidedly unlikely. So, East switched without great hope to the Club-smallJ, perhaps to take a trick in that suit before a fistful of diamonds were played. It seemed that South would surely have the Diamond-smallA. Indeed, South did and indeed the defence did take a club trick to hold the contract to 10 tricks..but even after South won the Club-smallA in dummy, even after declarer played a small heart to their king (you ducked and hoped) and even after declarer's Heart-smallQ was then taken by your ace, the contract could still be beaten. Unfortunately for the defence, East played Club-small10 which held and then tried a third club to score a second club trick. No joy! Declarer ruffed drew trump and claimed.

The perfect illusion

South had played a rather clever card at trick one, a card which offered just a small clue that perhaps the situation was not as East believed.

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

 

Look at the situation from South’s point of view. South knew that East had five spades and West only one. Inevitably, if South played low, East would continue spades. West would ruff and switch to a club. Unless diamonds were 3-3, there would be four losers as declarer could not touch trumps without losing a second ruff, a club trick or both.Even if diamonds were 3-3, the defence might manage two aces and two ruffs.

So, South took what looked like a suicide line of pretending to have a singleton spade honour. That’s a common practice when you have too many cards in a suit and anticipate a ruff but in most such situations, the declarer is not giving up a trick unnecessarily in throwing the high card.

However, there were two small clues for East. The first depended on the definition of an honour. It is always a moot point as to whether the 10 is indeed classified as an honour. Assuming the Spade-smallK was singleton, that would mean that West had led Spade-small4 from a holding of 1064. I doubt that the 10 would be classified as an honour in the context of a suit contract. In no-trumps, where West had had no chance to support their partner, certainly lead low from that holding but against a suit game where a “MUD” middle card lead was possible, the Spade-small4 was suspicious.

West, who might have been suspicious of their partner’s presumed 7 card suit had done what they could to obtain a ruff, by discouraging on the club switch and then playing high then low in trumps, a common way to say one has three trumps and wants a ruff. Alas, the illusion had been created and the ruff never came.

It was indeed a very clever ruse created by South and deserved the success it got. Let’s hope they did not give away a couple of overtricks on the very next board to reduce the gain!

Two problems for tomorrow.

     
East Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 10 9 8 7 6 5
8 4
A K 7 4

 

You are playing Pairs. What would you open? If you open at a high level, South passes as does your partner while North makes a take-out style double. Would you make another bid? Whether you do or do not, South bids hearts.

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

 

1NT is 15-17. Partner transfers and you show a mighty good supporting hand with spades. West leads Club-small4 (4th highest leads) with the first trick going Club-small5 Club-small2 and your Club-small8. What is your plan now, both playing Pairs and Teams?

Richard Solomon

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