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Proving North Wrong.

One mark of a good partnership is that when one player takes a rather unusual action which backfires, that their partner is, at least outwardly, very understanding. The “sinner” feels bad enough in recording a poor score without even a mild lecture from their partner. However, firstly it is up to the opposition to create the environment for the above to occur, or, to put it more succinctly, beat 4Heart-small!

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

 

You chance a 3Spade-small call, perhaps to suggest a sacrifice but the only taker, a little surprisingly in view of dummy, was North who decided that a making game was a better option than doubling 3Spade-small with the vulnerability in your favour. Your aim is to prove North wrong by beating 4Heart-small.

You lead Spade-smallK with your partner playing Spade-small2, an even number. Over to you?

Finding the way to beat this contract would be harder if one of dummy’s kings was hidden in declarer’s hand. As it is, there looks little chance of taking four top tricks unless your partner, who is marked with one trump, can produce the Heart-smallA after you take hopefully three spade tricks. Otherwise, the declarer could reel off seven trump tricks and some impressive minor suit winners, an easy ten tricks, even more.

So, you may as well start with the spades and if your partner has four spades, then the opposition may even have missed slam! However, partner only has two spades as everyone followed to the second spade which meant that your partner discarded a non-too-inspiring minor card on the third round.

What now? The minors look absolutely hopeless and playing a trump would be like conceding. Why concede when the contract is unmakeable?!

The effect of a "ruff and a sluff"

 Did you notice your own heart suit? Unlikely to take a trick unless..just maybe. So, try a fourth round of spades and if you are lucky and partner is aware of their role, you will soon have a trump trick:

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

 

If East’s singleton was any heart higher than the Heart-small9, they will promote a trump trick for you by forcing declarer to over-ruff…and suddenly, your Heart-small9 will take the fourth round of hearts to beat the contract by one trick!

North, who was feeling rather edgy about the penalty they could have extracted from 3Spade-smallx, might say to their partner “I thought at adverse vulnerability you would have decent trumps!” Obviously, South will never ever pre-empt again at adverse vulnerability without the top 9 cards in the suit! We hope North had just a little wink in his eye as they spoke!

Such a comment might deflect South from calculating the penalty they could have extracted from 3Spade-smallx. So, to help South in case North’s comment above was serious (we trust it was in jest!), a trump lead and continuation after West, who was rather regretting opening their mouth, played a heart in a forlorn hope of scoring one heart ruff, would lead to down 4 or -800, a poor score even if 4Heart-small was to make but an abysmal one when 4Heart-small was down one.

“Unlucky” South was heard to say afterwards. Were they referring to North’s 4Heart-small bid or the fact the contract, which was never better than a trump finesse, failed when the Heart-smallQ was never to score a trick? We will never know.

Spotting a trump promotion opportunity when there are alternative lines of defence can be hard. In the above example, there was no realistic alternative and the fourth round of trumps should be obvious. Sometimes, even the soundest of contracts can be beaten in this way. As a defender, it is always worth keeping this concept in mind as a way of creating an extra trick.

As Sunday is a day of rest, I thought I would give you a “rest” from clever plays, defences and bids. Instead, we will have a look at a few more unusual events that have occurred at the bridge table in this country in the past 30-40 years.

Years ago, we used to run a feature in New Zealand Bridge Magazine when such unusual events were written up under the heading: “Yes It Happened”. We will relive some of them tomorrow.

wierd events.jpg 

As a “for instance”, the contract was 1NT by South, the diamond suit being laid out as follows:

 
K 9 6 2
J 10 8
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q 7
 
A 5 4 3

 

How many tricks did declarer make in this suit with the first round of diamonds being played from the North (dummy) hand,Diamond-small2? No diamonds were discarded at any stage during the play . A special prize if you can give the order of diamonds played. No diamonds were discarded on any other suit.

One further question. What is the connection between tomorrow's article and the title of a well-known Spandau Ballet song? The fact that you have not yet seen the article should not stop you from answering. The fact that you have never heard of Spandau Ballet might!

We will reveal all on our “rest” day.

Richard Solomon

 

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