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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Achilles Heel.

One advantage of keeping a strong hand hidden as declarer is that the defence are less able to know for sure which honours declarer has or may not have. One would think that when the “monster” hand is exposed as dummy that it would be easier to plan the defence. So, how did you go with yesterday’s problem?

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

 

A monster dummy! There are only one king, one queen and two jacks you cannot see.

Your partner leads Club-small3 with their diamond suit not really being up to scratch! South calls for the Club-smallQ from dummy and you win the ace and continue clubs. South puts up Club-small10 and your partner discards Diamond-small2 (low encouraging!...yeh, right!). It looks like the opposition are on the same wavelength. 3Club-small asked for a club hold and 3NT said South had one.

Next comes Spade-small7 to the Spade-small4, dummy’s queen and your king. What next?

“Coming with those diamonds, partner! You can win the fifth round of the suit!” Except you cannot, having a big hole where you file the diamond suit! A club exit will only help the declarer who probably wished they had inserted the Club-small8 on the second round of the suit.

So, it is a case of the majors, one bid by declarer and the other looking extremely menacing in the dummy. “Hobson’s choice?” Not quite.

If you return a spade, you can predict what will happen even if your partner produces Spade-small10. Declarer will win in dummy and play Spade-smallA and another spade and only if declarer held an original singleton spade will you manage three tricks in the suit, enough to beat the contract. If the spade break is 2-2 in the hidden hands, you will be back on lead in a worse position than before.

There may be a little clue in that declarer did not cash any winning clubs which they might have done had they viewed dummy’s spades as losers.

So, who has the Heart-smallQ? Why not find out by playing either Heart-smallA or even a low heart? You might get a nice surprise.

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

 

Would you have passed 1Club-small X as South? “Probably not” would be your answer.
Would you have bid 1Heart-small? Same answer, I guess! It seems more normal to lie about the minor suit length than the major. South would normally bid 1Diamond-small with the cards held. You would not really want partner leaping game-wards in hearts if they held four cards in that suit.

At the table, East did not find the heart switch and South was able to set up dummy’s spades and make 9 tricks. Although East could not envisage a 4-card heart suit in the West hand, Qxx was possible and if you play partner for that holding, then cashing Heart-smallA and playing a second heart will make the subsequent defence very straightforward. If you exit with a low heart and declarer plays low from dummy, you should under-lead Heart-smallA when in with Spade-smallJ.

In switching to a heart, any heart, you found the Achilles’ heel of that powerful dummy. The defence would end up with two tricks in spades, three hearts and Club-smallA. Had South inserted Club-small8 at trick 2 (East’s 1Club-small could have been a three-card suit), then declarer would have made four tricks in each minor suit and would have come very easily to 9, even 10 tricks.

One final thought. When declarer played Club-smallQ at trick 1, it looked like declarer had a string of high clubs. As East you could deny South access to those clubs by ducking the first and second rounds of clubs. On the actual hand, declarer would probably play spades though even if they exited a third club, you would be forced into finding a winning heart switch.

achilles heel bottom.png

All up, do not let the most powerful of dummies put you off. They can have a weak point of their own, too.

A bidding decision

 

 
K 7 6
K 4 2
A Q 10 9 7
5 4
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Dbl Rdbl Pass 4 
Pass 4  Pass 4 
Pass ?    

 

A bidding decision for you for tomorrow. Your redouble shows three card spade support, not necessarily extra values. 4Club-small is a splinter, singleton or void club with spades set as trumps. 4Diamond-small and 4Heart-small are cue-bids, first or second-round controls. What now?

Richard Solomon

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