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Not To Your Advantage.

You have made quite a good lead. Well, the look of dummy tells you that you could have made a worse one! You have a nice suit which would seem very safe to lead, QJT7, against 3NT. Yet, you remembered the saying that when the opposition do not seem to want to play in a major, that then is the time to attack a major suit.

You held two three card major suits. There was realistically only one to lead, the one where your holding was QJ4…and partner played an encouraging card to trick 1. That’s good news story 1. A second piece of good news is when declarer decides that your strong QJT7 suit is the one they attack for tricks. You soon, therefore, win the lead back and the J in the suit you led wins the second trick. That’s the third good news story.

Job done? Well, nearly.

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

 

1NT was 12-14 with the auction being over quickly. Despite holding reasonable diamonds, you lead Spade-smallQ as the auction seemed to call for a major lead. Spade-smallA took the first trick with partner encouraging. Next came a diamond to declarer’s king and a second diamond to your Diamond-small10, ducked in dummy. (hey..bet you are glad you did not lead a diamond!)

East discarded a discouraging club. You play Spade-smallJ which holds the next trick. What now?

Had you led a high diamond, your diamond tricks would have reduced from two to one and your chances of defeating the contract diminish. So far, your side seems to have two diamond tricks and one spade trick. Does partner hold the Spade-smallK? It would seem so. Therefore, a third spade now should seal the contract’s fate.

It would seem from your partner’s discarding that declarer has the Club-smallA, Diamond-smallK and probably Club-smallQ or else your partner would not be discarding a useless club. Yet, that is well short of the number of hcp needed to open 1NT. You could come to 12 with Heart-smallQ and perhaps Club-smallJ or even no Club-smallJ if they were felt a little rule bending 11 hcp opening.

There is a little question to ask yourself. Just supposing those were declarer's cards, could they make enough tricks with just two tricks in diamonds, including the one already taken, just one in hearts, and the Spade-smallA? That would leave declarer to take 5 tricks in clubs.

Why do I ask? Because it is not a given that your partner has the Spade-smallK. Firstly, had your partner four or five good spades headed by the king, they may overtake your Spade-smallJ to save you all this wasted brain-power which you are using up. Say you had led from Spade-small QJ doubleton. Of course, their spades may not be that good, or long enough but that is something to consider.

A Desperate Declarer?

Secondly, a desperate declarer might be ducking with Spade-smallK. You have the choices of playing your partner to hold Spade-smallK and some more winners in that suit or of realising that if it is not the case, to find a contract beating switch while you still have control of the diamond suit.

The switch can only be wrong when declarer has five clubs. If that is not the case, the play of either small heart (Heart-smallJ seems to have more to gain), might be needed to complete an excellent defence. It was!

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

 

At the table, West continued with a third spade won by declarer’s king. There were not 5 club tricks to cash as the next card played was the Diamond-small6 and the defence was all over!

Not to your Advantage

The declarer had done well to duck the second spade, on their part an act of pure desperation. They had to lose the lead to you West and expected two more spades and Heart-smallA to seal their fate, one down. Had they taken Spade-smallK on the second round, that would have been the story..except East held the spades. 

You could predict that if South needed to get to dummy to cash diamond winners, they would have to play a heart towards the king…and that that play would be successful. Despite your excellent lead, the contract would make..but it would not have done had you switched to a small heart. Two diamond tricks and two heart tricks and the spade you have already taken.

No certainty and we hope partner would be understanding had they Spade-small K8763. The heart switch was not certain to be a success but mostly, you would have had a second chance if you were wrong.
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Just one further point. Had declarer held Spade-small1095 opposite Spade-small A2, they might, maybe should, duck the first round, in case the suit broke 6-2. They did not. Maybe,therefore, that was not the lay-out.

No-one ever said defence was easy. A nice warm glow inside if you had found both the initial Spade-smallQ lead and then a heart switch. 

Just an Ordinary Weak 2

Well, it started off that way but the auction took off in a rather unusual fashion after that:

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

 

I think you can detect two natural bids in the above auction, with neither being bid by your side! Your 2Diamond-small was a Multi 2Diamond-small showing here a weak 2 in hearts. Your partner seemed to want to force to game, presumably in your suit. However, the first one to bid game was North who presumably held more diamonds than you did.

So, what’s happening? Oh, it’s your bid?

Richard Solomon

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