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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

QUICK THINKING NICK.

Today’s hand comes from the recent Anzac Teams in Wellington. Winning this event were Peter Newell, Martin Reid, Malcolm Mayer and Michael Ware. Michael, in particular, has had a fabulous few months at the bridge table even by his high standards (2nd in the Open Pairs, 1st in the Swiss Pairs…to add to the Teams victory in Wellington being the most recent) but in providing a board from this weekend, he was gracious enough to provide one where an opponent, Nick Jacob, provided some excellent quick-thinking defence to beat Michael’s partner, Malcolm Mayer, in his 3NT contract.

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

 

1NT might have been a “comic no trump” though South “owned up” to a proper strong no-trump overcall with their response to the 2Club-small enquiry.

With no great love of your partner’s suit, you decide to start with your “secret weapon”, a low club. This goes to your partner’s king which wins the trick. Partner returns Club-small7 with declarer again playing low (Club-small4 then Club-small6). You win with Club-small9 and continue Club-smallQ, your partner throwing a low spade.

Next comes Heart-smallK, followed by Heart-small3, Heart-small2 and your partner’s Heart-small10. Declarer’s next card is Heart-small5.

Plan the defence.

Michael Ware (North) decided assuming his partner did have a genuine strong no-trump overcall that 4Heart-small might not be a good contract as he held three spades and there would be a strong chance of a spade ruff occurring had East held Spade-smallA. So, he used Stayman rather than a transfer sequence. 2NT showed 15-16 without four hearts. Hence, Michael raised to 3NT with his five hearts and two aces.

Nick (West) started off with the best lead for the defence, a low club. Malcolm Mayer (South) ducked the first two rounds of clubs as stated above and won the third round with the ace. These were the four hands:


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

 

With hearts 3-2, all Malcolm had to do was to keep Nick off lead as if he lost the lead to East (GeO Tislevoll), Malcolm could regain the lead and score two spade tricks (via the marked finesse), four hearts, two diamonds and Club-smallA.

So, Malcolm led the Heart-smallK with GeO playing a rather significant Heart-small10. Had Nick played Heart-small9 on the second round of hearts, Malcolm would have ducked in dummy losing to GeO’s Heart-smallJ.

 

However, Nick did not play low on the second round of hearts. He inserted Heart-smallQ anticipating the true heart position and the declarer’s intention. Malcolm had to win his ace and play a third round of hearts. Nick won this with his Heart-small9 and reeled off three more club tricks to beat the game by two tricks.

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Nick’s alertness saved the day

Nick’s astute quick-thinking play is the so called “crocodile coup” where you play a higher card in advance of your partner in order to keep your partner off lead, guaranteeing Nick a certain entry to run his winning clubs. To quote Michael Ware, who watched proceedings as dummy: “A crocodile coup in early/middle of the hand is very rare and harder to see than at the end when the whole hand is usually known…well done, Nick Jacob."

Michael also pointed out that 3NT can be made if declarer wins the first round of clubs and plays West for three hearts (Club-small10 protects South from more than two club losers) though with East opening the bidding, they would seem more likely to hold the Heart-smallQ. So, playing East for either three hearts or doubleton Heart-smallQ seems a better line.

At the other table in the same 3NT contract, West led Club-smallQ. East did not contribute the king as they thought that would help the declarer. So, a second club went to the king and ace. Although South could have ducked Club-smallK, he won and did in fact lose a trick to West thus making his contract. Had he lost to East and East had a third club to play, he would still have made his contract as the club suit would have broken 4-3.

As it happened, Michael’s fears about 4Heart-small were unfounded as, as long as declarer draws two rounds of trumps early, East can be end-played either to open up diamonds or provide declarer with three spade tricks and either way make 10 tricks.

Some decisions after a light opening

 

     


     
East Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
K J 10 7 6 2
A J 7 6 4
6
7
West North East South
    1  Pass
2  Dbl 2  Pass
3 NT Pass ?  

 

North’s double is for take-out. Do you agree with East’s 2Heart-smallbid? What now?

 

Richard Solomon

 

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