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DISCARDING DILEMMA

The one good thing when you are defending and having to decide which cards you will keep is you are not on your own. Your partner is there to help, or at least in theory!

There are a few basic rules which are always worth remembering, like retaining the same length of what looks like a key suit in either declarer’s or dummy’s hand but sometimes that comes at a potential or real cost, like when you are subjected to a squeeze. Was that the case on the board below? 

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

 

After a negative response to a game-forcing 2Club-small , North comes to life with a splinter bid (at least three hearts and 0/1 spade) in support of hearts. South jumps directly to slam.

West leads Spade-small 9 to your king and declarer’s ace. Declarer ruffs a spade at trick 2 playing Spade-smallJ from hand and partner Spade-smallQ and then plays three rounds of trumps, being a little disappointed when you discard Club-small3 (encouraging) on the second round. West wins the Heart-smallQ on the third round and exits a third round of spades, ruffed by declarer.

South leads out their remaining two trumps. They discard a diamond and three small clubs from dummy on four rounds of hearts leaving on dummy:

                         Diamond-smallQ964   and Club-smallJ

West throws two spades on the two hearts. Spade-small8 has not appeared.

Which 5 cards do you keep?

Are you still there? Your partner has taken a trump trick. You need one more trick to beat the slam. There are two things which should be true:

  1. that South only started with two spades. They could easily have ruffed any other spade losers they had in dummy. It would be suicidal to have drawn trumps while South still had any other small spades.
  2. that your partner, West, had neither minor suit ace. While in with the Heart-smallQ, they would have cashed it.

You discarded a low club to the second round of trumps suggesting you held something of use in the club suit. Despite that, your partner exited with a third spade, confirming at least that South was indeed then void in spades. Perhaps, they were worried you only held one club honour and that it would be finessed. Surely, if that was the case, South could go to dummy to take that finesse without the defence’s help? Had partner exited a club, you would have one spade more, one club less and you would not have been squeezed as you had two safe spade discards to make.

At that point (i.e. after the third round of spades was ruffed by declarer), this was the state of your hand and dummy:

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

 

With declarer throwing two clubs from dummy on the last two trumps, you had one easy discard, Spade-small10 and one not so easy. One could only presume that South had Diamond-smallA and a small diamond along with Club-smallA and a small club, along with an extra minor card, probably Diamond-smallK.

As long as you remembered the basic rule of keeping length with, in this case, dummy, you would be fine, you hope. Part with Club-smallQ, as you have to keep the same length in diamonds as dummy. Yes, it hurts, baring that Club-smallK.

It’s OK, partner is there for you.

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

 

Partner still has the important Club-small9 which just beats South’s other club while your Diamond-small10 ended up taking the vital setting trick.

Certainly, partner could have made life easier for you, even by discarding their Diamond-smallJ. That might have created a finesse opportunity as West did not know which diamonds you held.  Nevertheless, you knew what you had to do, in hanging on to the diamonds, and the Club-smallK until the last discard (you could not let Club-smallJ score a trick). Not so easy but following the basic guideline, the defence survived!.

A bidding decision for tomorrow.

 
 
Q 7 3
K Q
A Q 8 3 2
K 9 7
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 1 NT Pass 3 
Pass ?    

 

1NT is 15-17 and 3Club-small is what it looks like…hearts and clubs…and forcing.

What next?

Richard Solomon

p.s.  A special thank you to all those who have given us suggested venues to hold this year's National Bridge Congress. The positive constructive comments are very much appreciated. We are exploring alternatives and will give you more information as soon as possible.

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