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Nightmare Defence!

“Wake up, wake up.” It was only a dream, well, maybe, a nightmare! Your partner led your suit and declarer called for a card, an honour card, from dummy….and third player, you, played high…covered an honour with an honour…as you had learnt to do… and a couple of minutes later, your partner was giving you a real telling off as the contract had made!

“No play” they said “if you had just played low!”

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

 

Your partner leads Diamond-small3. Your play as East to trick 1?

In your defence, it had to be said that most players covered with the king. It was not much of a defence, certainly not a successful defence of 4Spade-small.

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

 

South took the Diamond-smallA, played two top trumps and crossed to dummy with a club to play Diamond-smallQ discarding a heart. There were then just two hearts for the defence along with one trump trick. East started protesting that West should have led either Diamond-small4 or Diamond-small2 from that holding rather than the confusing Diamond-small3 or that they should have led Heart-smallK as they would overtake, fire a heart back and then score a heart ruff with Spade-smallT. All very true (well, the piece about the heart suit..well, actually, not true at all as East should duck Heart-smallK seeing a 5-card suit in dummy).

Of course, whichever diamond was led was totally irrelevant. East should just know their partner did not hold the Diamond-smallA. In that case “third hand” cannot gain from playing the king. It may not matter but when it did matter, it would be bad for the defence. You only cover an honour with one of your own when it will or may benefit your side.

At times, we play automatic cards without thinking of the possible consequences of our actions. Had both West and South 2 diamonds each (the lead being from Diamond-small32 doubleton), it would not matter. Yet, on this day, it mattered a lot. A similar situation occurs frequently when dummy holds say Spade-small QJ764 and declarer is known to have at least 5 spades. Declarer calls for the queen from dummy and the next defender, holding Spade-smallK5 doubleton plays the king. The only benefactor from that play can be the declarer, even if the defender’s partner did not hold singleton ace!

Yes, wake up, it’s OK! That was just a bad dream that East might have had after defending the board below. What was true was that just about every East when confronted with a small diamond lead from their partner played Diamond-smallK. We are told not to under-lead an ace against a suit contract and certainly not in partner’s suit. East should know that and defend accordingly.

These were the true four hands:

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

 

West was not told off for leading Diamond-small3! East should play a low diamond at trick 1. South will have no problems as long as they played next their two high spades to be followed by Diamond-smallA. West can either ruff or not ruff with their high trump. Either way, South gets to ruff their small diamond in dummy and loses just a trump and a heart, making an overtrick.

Of course, if declarer tries to do that before playing 2 rounds of trumps, West will ruff the second diamond and get a very loud signal (like Diamond-smallK) from East suggesting the higher of the other 2 suits and West will score a second diamond ruff, a poor result for South.

Yet, that was only a maybe, just like our first hand above was only in your worst dreams. Sometimes, if we carry on needlessly covering honours when it cannot benefit our side, our worst dreams will come true.

no covers.jpg

Sleep well under or without any wasteful “covers”!

When Pigs and Bridge Players Could Fly

Do you remember those days, pre Covid, when we could fly or drive around New Zealand to play in bridge tournaments? Tomorrow’s deal, on Jan’s Day, takes us winging our way all the way to Invercargill. It will be your lead and perhaps Kathy Yule will find the same lead she found back in 1990.

West Deals
None Vul
   
J 5
4 3
A 10 5
A Q 10 7 6 4
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
1  Dbl Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      

2Club-small is an articial force.

Over to you.

Richard Solomon

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